The assault on privacy: 'Big Brother' really is watching
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The assault on privacy: 'Big Brother' really is watching

Colorado Springs : CO : USA | Nov 27, 2012 at 6:01 AM PST
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The camera of a street view car

These days, people are surrounded by technology capable of keeping tabs on them. These devices have become so embedded into our society that many are becoming oblivious to their presence. When we enter various public places, we are increasingly falling under the scrutiny of the all-seeing, unblinking eye of the video camera.

In malls, grocery stores, government buildings and even while we are just taking a casual walk down the street, our likenesses are constantly being recorded. In some cases even stored and archived.

An example of just how much surveillance technology has permeated modern society is evident in several metropolitan areas. At almost every street intersection video cameras are positioned like silent sentinels. Some are even capable of taking high resolution images and extreme magnification. Some are additionally equipped with the ability to electronically eavesdrop on everything within a certain distance of the device.

Because of the way they are installed and positioned, many people are completely unaware they are being watched. Others pay virtually no attention to it because of the innocuous manner in which some are placed. One widely used method is the use of smoked domes in ceilings that conceal the unblinking eyes that are upon us. Another way to raise the comfort level is to integrate them into machinery like ATMs.

Video cameras have found their way into nearly every place that we frequent with only a few exceptions. In the US, the courts have ruled that video recording or surveillance in any place where a person enjoys the expectation of privacy is prohibited. So as of now, video cameras are not allowed in restrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms or any other place where a person is subject to be disrobed.

Even places of employment have jumped on the surveillance bandwagon. Many have cameras in work areas and break areas.

And now after a long day of being ogled at by the camera's invasive mechanical eye, it is time to head to the one place where there is not only solitude but absolute privacy--home.

Since you now know that your every move in public has been chronicled and stored somewhere, you may no longer view your world in the same way again. And so, you jump into your new car, fully equipped with all options, including that cool navigation service you pay for every month and begin your journey home. You are now keenly aware of the perhaps hundreds of artificial eyes looking at you as you make your way through the streets.

You stop at the local convenience store for gas. You observe the cameras trained on the pumps as you swipe your card and make your fuel purchase. Afterward you stop at the supermarket to pick up dinner. Once again you notice the cameras throughout the store as you scan your store loyalty card and buy your items.

Finally you arrive at home. You finish that cell phone call with your friend and go inside. Once inside you quickly enter your code to disarm the alarm to prevent the alarm company from alerting the police. While you shower, you realize that the world no longer looks the same, but you resign yourself to the fact that you will be photographed and recorded every time you step out in public. "Oh well!" you sigh, because you know there's nothing you can do about it.

At least you can enjoy the privacy of your home, you think as you fire up the DVR to watch that show that aired while you were away. You check your email over the interweb and finally decide to settle down and watch a movie streamed to your television over the web from that movie company you have a subscription with.

Suddenly you realize that weird neighbor of yours is across the street on the porch staring at you as you relax; through your open curtains. You get up and draw the curtains closed with a sneer of indignity on your face.

You settle back in to begin watching that movie. You know that leaving your curtains open basically meant you had no expectation of privacy. You silently curse yourself for being responsible for the breach of your privacy. As the movie application starts up, you ask yourself, "If a person can't be free from prying eyes and people monitoring what you do even in the privacy of your home, where can you go to be free?"

Just then, the menu of movie recommendations comes up along with the list of all the movies you already watched.

Even though you realize you are being observed by cameras and people, how many other ways of monitoring you did you miss?

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The camera of a street view car
The camera of a street view car
tjlarson is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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