Welcome back to a new series where we explore some of the most important stories from across the fields of privacy, cybersecurity, surveillance and general internet goings-ons. Think that we’ve missed out on some bigger stories? If so, let us know what your top picks would be on the ‘What’s up today’ thread in the forum or @ us on Twitter. This week, we’ve focused on acts of surveillance by the state and corporations.
Anyone who orders stuff online knows how annoying it can be to have to wait in for deliveries, or even worse, miss them completely. So, Amazon and Walmart in the USA have come up with an interesting idea. You can let the person delivering your order your house to drop off your order and for your peace of mind, the Amazon employee will be fitted with a bodycam so you can ‘check’ up on them.
There’s a couple of troubling layers to this. First, you’re allowing Amazon and Walmart into your house. Into your actual home. Secondly, this is being recorded by Amazon and Walmart — so you don’t own that footage of them in your hallway. They do. Another dimension to this that the delivery driver becomes a walking surveillance camera while also being tracked by their employer. So we end up in an Inception-equse world where the watchers are watching the watchers who are watching the watchers…
Amazon again, with another story of them attempting world domination through surveillance.
Instead of static CCTV cameras outside your home keeping an eye on your property, Amazon have patented an idea to let drones watch your home for any criminal behaviour. They’ve hinted that customers could pay for this service on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. And that the drones could also be fitted with microphones.
Now, we all know Amazon is very, very concerned about our privacy (can you sense our sarcasm there?!) so they’ve included geo-fencing technology in the design to make sure the drones don’t capture footage of houses they’re not supposed to.
We don’t see this ending well at all.
In 2018, the A.I. video analytics market was estimated to already be worth more than $3.2 billion, a value that’s projected to balloon to more than $8.5 billion in the next four years, according to research firm Markets and Markets. This industry has grown out the proliferation of CCTV footage which is too much for humans to handle. For example, Edinburgh has approximately 208 public CCTV cameras and no doubtmost likely many more private companies, each of which will be producing thousands and thousands of hours of data. By introducing AI makes this data, this becomes manageable — but at. At what cost? however. Studies t Time and time again, studies have shown AI technology is inherently biased — and in many cases discriminatory.
Can we really trust more tech to solve this problem?
On the same track, Sidewalk Labs, part of the Google Alphabet conglomerate, recently released plans for its next smart city, Toronto. Like other smart cities, itn will be a place where sensors stud the landscape, tracking everything from which street furniture residents use to how quickly they cross the street. And like other smart cities, it’s still entirely unclear what that data will ultimately be used for.
And to finish on a slightly lighter note, a new Robocop has been seen patrolling parks in Southern California. Its naive design is concealing something much more sinister though which is constant surveillance and a normalisation of such intrusive behaviours by the police.
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