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Criminals, Terrorists and Maybe the Rest of Us -- Watch Out

I saw two items that gave me pause. I'm going to be neutral on this because, quite frankly, I'm more concerned with what you think, and this is sensitive stuff. Say too much and I'm sure to offend someone. So just the facts this time, ma'am.

First up, Microsoft has finished working on a system for New York City that combines massive video surveillance with an equally massive database. The idea is to see anyone in the city, watch exactly what they are doing in real-tine and match them to what is already known about them. The system, according to press statements, is aimed at terrorists and suspected criminals.

The second item is more interesting. Apparently Homeland Security has a new laser that, pretty soon, will be able to shoot beams at us and find out most everything -- whether we have drugs, weapons, if we're nervous, even what we ate in the Red Carpet Club. All this from 50 yards away. And even though this is aimed at airports, what's to keep this out of the hands of regular old law enforcement?

The author who brought me this info had a point of view and used the article as a platform to promote a new app that can secretly record one's interactions with the police.
The point here is that sometimes in some places police officers believe being recorded is illegal and have arrested those doing the recording.

You can see how divisive these topics can be. But because the technology is moving so fast (who doesn't have a camera phone?), we may want to tackle some public policy now before we reach the point of no return.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/10/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 BOB New Jersey

Phoenix from San Diego doesn't get it. Terrorists don't care one byte if they force us to sacrifice some of our personal liberty. Terrorists want to kill us, and only when they kill us do they "win". You shouldn't need a plane to crash into your local organic food store to understand this.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Brent

The chipping away of the fourth amendment priiding protection against unreasonable search and seizure has been happening for years but this poses a brand new threat. Law enforcement will in league with the justice system will now claim that no search is unreasonable since their laser spectrometer gives them reason to beleive that you have a illegal item or substance on their person. The problem is this laser will pick up whatever you came in contact with even if it was unintentional like bumping up against a drug dealer on the street or wearing a coat you didnt wash after you went to the gun range last week.


Doug, expect to see this technology fielded next in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, it will help out our police state and compliment the draconian guns laws we have here very well....

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 Phoenix San Diego

When people in this country, we who most value our freedoms, are willing to sacrifice personal liberty and privacy in order to attempt to prevent random terrorist acts, the terrorists have already won.

Mon, Aug 13, 2012

Doh! Meant intrusion on privacy, not intrusion on security. Really need to have a way to edit it after it posts ;)

Mon, Aug 13, 2012

Technological advances and intrusion on security aside, I think you hit on the key point - there is no public policy on this. Supposedly we have a right to privacy, but new technology has been infringing on that for so long, no one really does anymore. What's more, the line between public and private has become so blurred as to be meaningless. We need to have a public debate and general policy definition as to what constitues privacy - where is the line - or just give up the pretense and amend the constitution to remove it. After all, it is not like our public officials are protecting it. It is only a few of us privacy advocates that are still trying, and the courts continue to blatently ignore our constitiutional rights in this realm independent of the law (in the name of the greater good, of course).

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 Bob New Jersey

I was in the south tower when the planes hit us on 9/11, and I’m for any technology that will help prevent something like that from happening again. I’ll take an overzealous police officer over an overzealous terrorist any day.

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 Ken Sacramento

I think we reached the point of no return in 2000, when a certain someone was elected president. Since then our civil liberties have been slowly taken away in the name of security. Being caught on video when you are in a public place is to be expected, but laser beams with unknown consequences are just close to over the top, although not surprising.

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 E.C. colorado

We've reached the point of no return. "BIG" is here to stay and all by people who fear BIG the most. Sadly, we are a mockery of Patrick Henry.

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 Greg New York!

I don't think we've reached the point of no return, but we are close. It might take a supreme court ruling to decide if such measures are constitutional (common sense notwithstanding).

Fri, Aug 10, 2012

A-ha! Shows what you know. They don't let you bring food into the Red Carpet Club!

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 phil shuman St. Croix, VI

It sounds like Microsoft was watching the new program 'person of interest' also based in NYC. Scary stuff

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 Den Kansas City

Doug, we reached the point of no return a long time ago. Just TRY turning back the clock... I am really sorry to have to acknowledge this.

Fri, Aug 10, 2012

I think we already reached the point of no return, the terroists have suceeded in inducing fear and Homeland Security keeps it going. I think I'll unplug, turn off electronics and enjoy a nice walk in the woods.

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