The New York Times follows along as Heidi Boghosian, a New Yorker and author of an upcoming book on surveillance, agreed to try to document her own data trail. She was tracked via camera surveillance (closed circuit television, or CCTV), GPS through her cellphone, and more:
As part of The Agenda, The Times’s look at major issues facing the next administration, we have been examining the trade-offs, more than a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, between security and privacy and civil liberties. Some readers have written in about the electronic data trail that all of us leave as we go about our lives, using the Internet and carrying smartphones. […]
[Boghosian] account, below, is nothing extraordinary – and that’s the point. It is impossible to live in urban, wired America without leaving clues about ourselves, our movements and our views everywhere. And it is all but impossible to be certain who is looking at the resulting data or video and how much of it is accessible to federal, state or local government.
Ms. Boghosian is executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, a group of self-described radical lawyers and law students founded in 1937, and between her day job and her book research, she thinks far more than most people about surveillance and privacy. […]
Here is the record she made:
A Day of Surveillance:
(1) 8:30 a.m.: Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in hallway permits private landlord to monitor departure of tenant from apartment building at 173 Avenue A, New York, N.Y. A sign is posted alerting tenants that their actions are being monitored.
(2) City-owned video surveillance camera, mounted atop a streetlight pole, records pedestrian and vehicular traffic on corner of Avenue A and 11th Street. […]
(5) 10:30 a.m.: iPhone (with G.P.S. tracking) in owner’s back pocket allows phone owner’s movement and location to be tracked (by government, if cellphone provider gives access) through day and evening, even if phone is turned off, as phone owner walks to Astor Place subway stop.
(6) 10:45 a.m.: Passed by “smart sign” (digital billboard with cameras that gauges demographics of passers-by) that delivers ads tailored to the demographics of the passer-by.
Read the full story to find out more about data trails.