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    CNN: Data surveillance centers: Crime fighters or ‘spy machines?’

    CNN reports on data surveillance centers and the controversial privacy, liberty and security questions that they raise:

    Some residents of Oakland, California, fear their community is creating a monster. The city calls it the Domain Awareness Center, but opponents call it a “spy machine” and a potential “tool of injustice.”

    Known as “the DAC,” it’s a proposed central surveillance facility where authorities can monitor the Port of Oakland and the city’s airport to protect against potential terrorism.

    But the broader issue of centralized data surveillance poses serious privacy questions for millions of people in cities around the globe. […]

    The danger, say opponents, is putting all these data resources into one place.

    “If you need to go to four different locations to track someone’s movements across town, you’re not going to do it unless you have a good reason,” said Linda Lye of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. “But when you can do it with the press of a button because it’s all at your fingertips, you’ll end up doing it based on your idle curiosity.” That, Lye said, creates a situation ripe for abuse. […]

    But the issue has progressed far beyond the power of a few hundred video cameras and streetlight posts. Community surveillance 2.0 is now all about huge data mash-ups and incredible software that quickly sorts through mountains of information. Bottom line: A relatively small number of people have easy access to data that can track your whereabouts.

    In many cities, cameras mounted on police patrol cars gather video of millions of license plates. That data that can be used to track vehicles, possibly yours. Add traffic cameras to the mix. Then include cameras at bus stops, airports and train stations. How about cameras owned by schools and private security companies?

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