Interviewing for a new job without your boss’s knowledge
Visiting a therapist
Inspired by Patrick Keefe’s “Camera Shy” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2003).
From Michael Reilly’s “In-flight surveillance could foil terrorists in the sky” (New Scientist: 29 May 2008):
CCTV cameras are bringing more and more public places under surveillance – and passenger aircraft could be next.
A prototype European system uses multiple cameras and “Big Brother” software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused by passengers.
The European Union’s Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project uses a camera in every passenger’s seat, with six wide-angle cameras to survey the aisles. Software then analyses the footage to detect developing terrorist activity or “air-rage” incidents, by tracking passengers’ facial expressions.
“It looks for running in the cabin, standing near the cockpit for long periods of time, and other predetermined indicators that suggest a developing threat,” says James Ferryman of the University of Reading, UK, one of the system’s developers.
Other behaviours could include a person nervously touching their face, or sweating excessively. One such behaviour won’t trigger the system to alert the crew, only certain combinations of them.
From Stephen J. Dubner’s interview with Bruce Schneier in “Bruce Schneier Blazes Through Your Questions” (The New York Times: 4 December 2007):
There’s a huge difference between nosy neighbors and cameras. Cameras are everywhere. Cameras are always on. Cameras have perfect memory. It’s not the surveillance we’ve been used to; it’s wholesale surveillance. I wrote about this here, and said this: “Wholesale surveillance is a whole new world. It’s not ‘follow that car,’ it’s ‘follow every car.’ The National Security Agency can eavesdrop on every phone call, looking for patterns of communication or keywords that might indicate a conversation between terrorists. Many airports collect the license plates of every car in their parking lots, and can use that database to locate suspicious or abandoned cars. Several cities have stationary or car-mounted license-plate scanners that keep records of every car that passes, and save that data for later analysis.
“More and more, we leave a trail of electronic footprints as we go through our daily lives. We used to walk into a bookstore, browse, and buy a book with cash. Now we visit Amazon, and all of our browsing and purchases are recorded. We used to throw a quarter in a toll booth; now EZ Pass records the date and time our car passed through the booth. Data about us are collected when we make a phone call, send an e-mail message, make a purchase with our credit card, or visit a Web site.”
What’s happening is that we are all effectively under constant surveillance. No one is looking at the data most of the time, but we can all be watched in the past, present, and future. And while mining this data is mostly useless for finding terrorists (I wrote about that here), it’s very useful in controlling a population.
From Eric’s “Canon’s Iris Registration Mode – Biological Copyright Metadata” (Photography Bay: 9 February 2008):
A recent Canon patent application (Pub. No.: US 2008/0025574 A1) reveals the next step in digital watermarking – Iris Registration.
The short and sweet of it?
1. Turn the Mode dial to “REG”
2. Choose between “REG 1″ through “REG 5″ (for up to 5 registered users)
3. Put eye to viewfinder
4. Look at display of center distance measurement point
5. Press the shutter button
6. Iris image captured
7. Go shoot
Additional embedded info can be added later. All metadata will be added to images after you’re finished shooting in a collective manner and not for each image. The purpose of the collective tagging, if you will, is to refrain from hampering the camera’s speed (frames per second) while shooting.
From Heather Knight’s “S.F. public housing cameras no help in homicide arrests” (San Francisco Chronicle: 14 August 2007):
The 178 video cameras that keep watch on San Francisco public housing developments have never helped police officers arrest a homicide suspect even though about a quarter of the city’s homicides occur on or near public housing property, city officials say.
Nobody monitors the cameras, and the videos are seen only if police specifically request it from San Francisco Housing Authority officials. The cameras have occasionally managed to miss crimes happening in front of them because they were trained in another direction, and footage is particularly grainy at night when most crime occurs, according to police and city officials.
Similar concerns have been raised about the 70 city-owned cameras located at high-crime locations around San Francisco.
So far this year, 66 homicides have occurred in San Francisco, compared with 85 in all of 2006. On average, about a quarter of the city’s homicides happen on or near public housing property every year, according to statistics from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
The authority has spent $203,603 to purchase and maintain its cameras since installing the first batch in the summer of 2005. It has plans to install another 81 cameras, but no date has been set.
From BBC News’ “CCTV boom ‘failing to cut crime’” (6 May 2008):
Huge investment in closed-circuit TV technology has failed to cut UK crime, a senior police officer has warned.
Det Ch Insp Mick Neville said the system was an “utter fiasco” – with only 3% of London’s street robberies being solved using security cameras.
Although Britain had more cameras than any other European country, he said “no thought” had gone into how to use them.
Speaking at the Security Document World Conference in London, Det Ch Insp Neville, the head of the Met’s Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido), said one of the problems was that criminals were not afraid of cameras.
He also said more training was needed for officers who often avoided trawling through CCTV images “because it’s hard work”.
One study suggests there may be more than 4.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK – the majority on private property – but until Viido was set up in September 2006 there had been no dedicated police unit to deal with the collection and dissemination of CCTV evidence.
From Owen Bowcott’s “CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police” (The Guardian: 6 May 2008):
Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.
From James Surowiecki’s “The Tastemakers” (The New Yorker [13 January 2003]: 31):
… it’s one thing to foist a fad on people, and another to have a deep and enduring impact on their everyday customs and habits. In the late eighteen-eighties, when George Eastman invented the Kodak – the first point-and-shoot camera – photography was the private domain of enthusiasts and professionals. Though the Kodak was relatively cheap and easy to use, most Americans didn’t see the need for a camera; they had no sense that there was any value in visually documenting their lives. So, instead of simply marketing a camera, Eastman sold photography. His advertisements told people what to take pictures of: vacations, holidays, “the Christmas house party.” Kodak introduced the concept of the photo album, and made explicit the connection between photographs and memories. Before long, it was more or less considered a patriotic duty to commemorate the notable – and not so notable – moments in your life on a roll of Kodak film.
From John Twelve Hawks’s “ How We Live Now” (2005):
And everywhere we go, there are surveillance cameras Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thousands of them Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to photograph and record our image. Some of them are “smart” cameras, linked to computer programs that watch our movements in case we act differently from the rest of the crowd: if we walk too slowly, if we linger outside certain buildings, if we stop to laugh or enjoy the view, our body is highlighted by a red line on a video monitor and a security guard has to decide whether he should call the police.
From Patrick Keefe’s “Camera Shy” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2003):
One extralegal solution is a project called iSee. Launched several years ago, iSee is an online interactive map of the locations of surveillance cameras in Manhattan. To use iSee, you simply open the map of Manhattan and double-click on your point of departure and your destination. After a few moments of computation, iSee generates the “path of least surveillance.”
iSee can be accessed through the website of the organization which created it, the so-called Institute of Applied Autonomy. IAA is a collective of artists, engineers, and scientists who design technologies for the “burgeoning market” of “cultural insurrection.” The organization presents itself as a tech-savvy civil libertarian answer to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a shadowy R&D wing of the Pentagon. DARPA has recently been in the news for developing the Terrorist Information Awareness project, headed by John Poindexter, which would monitor the everyday transactions of American citizens. Whereas DARPA uses what IAA calls “tools of repression” to take your autonomy away, IAA answers with another set of tools that are intended to give you your autonomy back. …
From Patrick Keefe’s “Camera Shy” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2003):
In London, a city even more intensively scrutinized by closed-circuit television cameras than New York, citizens can at least retrieve copies of footage taken of them through a provision in Britain’s Data Protection Act. Americans have no such legal recourse. …
From Technology Review‘s “Big Brother Logs On“:
Consider the benefits of the “computer-aided drowning detection and prevention” system that Boulogne, France-based Poseidon Technologies has installed in nine swimming pools in France, England, the Netherlands and Canada. In these systems, a collection of overhead and in-pool cameras relentlessly monitors pool activity. The video signals feed into a central processor running a machine perception algorithm that can effectively spot when active nonwater objects, such as swimmers, become still for more than a few seconds. When that happens, a red alarm light flashes at a poolside laptop workstation and lifeguards are alerted via waterproof pagers. Last November, a Poseidon system at the Jean Blanchet Aquatic Center in Ancenis, Loire-Atlantique, France, alerted lifeguards in time to rescue a swimmer on the verge of drowning. Pulled from the water unconscious, the swimmer walked away from a hospital the next day.
From Technology Review‘s “Big Brother Logs On“:
In many ways, the drama of pervasive surveillance is being played out first in Orwell’s native land, the United Kingdom, which operates more closed-circuit cameras per capita than any other country in the world. This very public surveillance began in 1986 on an industrial estate near the town of King’s Lynn, approximately 100 kilometers north of London. Prior to the installation of three video cameras, a total of 58 crimes had been reported on the estate. None was reported over the next two years. In 1995, buoyed by that success, the government made matching grants available to other cities and towns that wanted to install public surveillance cameras – and things took off from there. …
And not many argue about surveillance’s ability to deter crime. Recent British government reports cite closed-circuit TV as a major reason for declining crime rates. After these systems were put in place, the town of Berwick reported that burglaries fell by 69 percent; in Northampton overall crime decreased by 57 percent; and in Glasgow, Scotland, crime slumped by 68 percent. Public reaction in England has been mixed, but many embrace the technology. …
From David Pescovitz’s “The Big Picture“:
Mobile researcher John Poisson, CEO of the Fours Initiative, focuses on how cameraphones could revolutionize photography and communication — if people would only start using them more.
As the leader of Sony Corporation’s mobile media research and design groups in Tokyo, John Poisson spent two years focused on how people use cameraphones, and why they don’t use them more often.
TheFeature: What have you learned over the course of your research?
Poisson: People think of the cameraphone as a more convenient tool for digital photography, an extension of the digital camera. That’s missing the mark. The mobile phone is a communications device. The minute you attach a camera to that, and give people the ability to share the content that they’re creating in real time, the dynamic changes significantly.
TheFeature: Aren’t providers already developing applications to take advantage of that shift?
Poisson: Well, we have things like the ability to moblog, to publish pictures to a blog, which is not necessarily the most relevant model to consumers. Those tools are developed by people who understand blogging and apply it in their daily lives. But it ignores the trend that we and Mimi Ito and others are seeing as part of the evolution of photography. If you look at the way people have (historically) used cameras, it started off with portraiture and photographs of record — formalized photographs with a capital “P.” Then as the technology evolved, we had this notion of something called a snapshot, which is much more informal. People could take a higher number of pictures with not so much concern over composition. It was more about capturing an experience than photographing something. The limit of that path was the Polaroid. It was about taking the picture and sharing it instantly. What we have today is the ability to create today is a kind of distributed digital manifestation of that process.