High tech may save CA, but it will definitely doom privacy

High tech may save CA, but it will definitely doom privacy

IAO-logoI’m all for technological advances. In fact, I’ve slowly come around to the wild-sounding idea that scientific breakthroughs just might save California from decline by creating so much wealth and free stuff that eventually we will live in what Slate economics writer Matt Yglesias calls a “post-scarcity” world.

But it’s going to be a world without much privacy, also thanks to advanced technology. Such tech makes it easy to track your phone and your car. And then there’s this sci-fi development in San Diego’s largest suburb, as detailed by the Center for Investigative Reporting:

“On a residential street in San Diego County, Calif., Chula Vista police had just arrested a young woman, still in her pajamas, for possession of narcotics. Before taking her away, Officer Rob Halverson paused in the front yard, held a Samsung Galaxy tablet up to the woman’s face and snapped a photo.

“Halverson fiddled with the tablet with his index finger a few times, and – without needing to ask the woman’s name or check her identification – her mug shot from a previous arrest, address, criminal history and other personal information appeared on the screen.

“Halverson had run the woman’s photograph through the Tactical Identification System, a new mobile facial recognition technology now in the hands of San Diego-area law enforcement. In an instant, the system matches images taken in the field with databases of about 348,000 San Diego County arrestees. The system itself has nearly 1.4 million booking photos because many people have multiple mug shots on record.

“The little-known program could become the largest expansion of facial recognition technology by U.S. law enforcement. Amid an international debate over collecting and sharing huge amounts of data on the public, this pilot program is putting that metadata to use in the field in real time.”

Public input? No need. Let’s just militarize!

nsa spyingAs the report points out, this technology was developed for use on the battlefield and in hostile lands — meant for authorities bent on keeping a populace subjugated. Now it’s arrived in civilian USA …

” … without any public hearings or notice. In turn, the secrecy of the program has alarmed privacy experts and raised questions about whether San Diego is the leading edge of an alarming future –- one in which few people escape cataloging in a government database.

“Twenty-five local, state and federal law enforcement agencies -– including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Border Patrol, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and San Diego State University -– participate in the system. The project is coordinated by the San Diego Association of Governments and relies on a vast data-sharing program called the Automated Regional Justice Information System.

“For some, the use of biometric technology by police represents a radical milestone in the militarization of American law enforcement.”

Unfortunately, for most, they will just shrug it off, the way they’ve shrugged off all the insane stories the past four months about the nearly unlimited NSA spying on innocent people around the world.

That won’t change until this mass surveillance is linked to a horrendous abuse of power or to some immense financial crime.

It’s coming. Power corrupts. And the power to conduct mass surveillance on innocent and unknowing people presents opportunities for high-tech corruption that dwarf anything we’ve seen before.



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  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 8 November, 2013, 09:35

    I realize the thrust of this story is the surveillance angle, Chris….but to that first paragraph……

    I’m not so sure I want to live in a place where 38 million are mostly dependent upon the creativity and beneficence of a dozen or so MENSA members who live at the southern edge of San Francisco Bay.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 8 November, 2013, 13:12

    First, the Tech Industry is NOT going to save Crazyfornia. This nonsense about a post scarcity economy is just regurgitated Marxism. It’s more utopian blather from the left.

    The Tech Industry is an important part of the state economy but there will be no social democratic utopia. Pigs will not fly and the High Tech Oligarchs will not make all of us richer.

    When the economy goes into the ditch again as it inevitably will, this state will be swimming in debt, bankruptcy, foreclosed homes and people without jobs. Oh I forgot, it already is.

    The surveillance issue is a big problem too. The face recognition technology will let them catalog EVERYONE’S face. Inevitably that will go into your Homeland Security profile along with DNA, fingerprints, medical records, bank records, phone records, tax returns, etc.

    When the local Polizei have fully deployed their growing drone arsenal they will be able to silently invade our privacy any time, anywhere. Then to make things worse they also have sophisticated snooping and hacking software, red light cameras, automated license plate scanners, thermal imaging devices, laser tracking, radar tracking, GPS tracking, etc.

    Privacy is an endangered species being hunted to extinction by our increasingly authoritarian government and it’s Tech Industry crony capitalist allies.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 November, 2013, 10:48

    I feel blue today.

    Who would have known it’s so threatening out there!

    Reply this comment

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