The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership

Schneier on Security:

Today in the US there's a massive but invisible industry that records the movements of cars around the country. Cameras mounted on cars and tow trucks capture license places along with date/time/location information, and companies use that data to find cars that are scheduled for repossession. One company, Vigilant Solutions, claims to collect 70 million scans in the US every month. The companies that engage in this business routinely share that data with the police, giving the police a steady stream of surveillance information on innocent people that they could not legally collect on their own. And the companies are already looking for other profit streams, selling that surveillance data to anyone else who thinks they have a need for it. [...]

Last year, the US Department of Commerce tried to prevail upon industry representatives and privacy organizations to write a voluntary code of conduct for companies using facial recognition technologies. After 16 months of negotiations, all of the consumer-focused privacy organizations pulled out of the process because industry representatives were unable to agree on any limitations on something as basic as nonconsensual facial recognition. [...]

Don't expect to have access to this technology for yourself anytime soon. This is not facial recognition for all. It's just for those who can either demand or pay for access to the required technologies -- most importantly, the tagged photo databases. And while we can easily imagine how this might be misused in a totalitarian country, there are dangers in free societies as well. Without meaningful regulation, we're moving into a world where governments and corporations will be able to identify people both in real time and backwards in time, remotely and in secret, without consent or recourse.

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3 Responses:

  1. nooj says:

    We can use that data to categorize how much individuals drive, and where, and what kinds of traffic conditions they regularly experience. We can build a guess of their income and lifestyle, and cross-list all this with real estate databases, their financial credit score, and pour it all back into a shadow-profile social "credit score". And when they drive onto the car dealership lot, we can have all their information automatically pop up onto salesmen's screens, to improve the salesman's tactics.

    • Thomas Foile says:

      I keep saying that we've arrived at the posthuman Singularity through other means. The predominant form of life on this good Earth is now the Corporation, and we mere hominidae are its prey.

      People who want small government are acting for the new Apex Predator, attempting to overcome our only evolved defense against such predation.

      (crossposted to /r/im14andthisisdeep)

  2. Anonytrace says:

    It's not just that they're watching. Read on CIA project MKULTRA and think how deep the rabbit hole goes ;)