Workplace Surveillance Cameras on You

 

Do you remember the period after 9/11 when we were learning with alarm that the Department of Homeland Security wanted to put surveillance cameras on our street corners? Although some people saw the wisdom of that decision, others were apprehensive about cameras appearing everywhere we went. Wouldn’t those cameras be an invasion of privacy? Were they really necessary to identify terrorists? Or could they be used for other insidious purposes?

Over time, however, we seem to have become less concerned about those cameras. We’ve learned that criminals can be identified, attacks on people can be recorded and the bad guys will learn that it’s more difficult to escape the law. Yet we’re also noticing that with the most recent actions by the government to threaten our rights and our privacy, we have much more at stake regarding our personal lives than ever before.

We now have “smart cities” all over the country, which are digitally sophisticated:

What’s more, the pitfalls may soon outweigh the supposed benefits.

That’s because ‘smart”’ is increasingly a euphemism for surveillance. Cities in at least 56 countries worldwide have deployed surveillance technologies powered by automatic data mining, facial recognition, and other forms of artificial intelligence. Urban surveillance is a multibillion-dollar industry, with Chinese and U.S.-based companies such as Axis, Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, and ZTE leading the charge. Whether they are in China or elsewhere, smart cities are usually described in benign terms with the soothing promise of greener energy solutions, lower-friction mobility, and safer streets. Yet in a growing number of places from New York to Hong Kong, there are growing concerns about the ways in which supercharged surveillance is encroaching on free speech, privacy, and data protection. But the truth is that facial recognition and related technologies are far from the most worrisome feature of smart cities.

Now we see the Chinese marketing a new product that has taken the country by storm: a smart lamp with two cameras to help parents supervise children doing their homework. (Many of us already have cameras in our homes to watch our children with their babysitters.) These lamps range from $120 to $170; the more expensive model tells parents if their children are slouching.

For many years, the Chinese have been intensifying their invasion into their citizens’ lives. Unlike U.S. citizens, the Chinese are either not bothered by these intrusions, try to ignore them, or realize there’s not much they can do about them. The company that popularized these lamps, ByteDance, Inc., reports selling 10,000 lamps within the first month of sales. The company states that both children and parents must consent to the use of these lamps for remote monitoring. (I’m not sure how willing Chinese children would be to defy their parents’ desire to watch them.) Meanwhile, the obsession with the Chinese for high-performing children motivates them to use every means financially available to ensure their children’s success.

*     *     *     *

So why should China’s increased opportunities for surveillance matter to those of us in the United States? At a time when we are experiencing a widespread effort to invade our privacy, including efforts made by the NSA in the recent past, I think that this “smart lamp” technology may be the tip of the iceberg in terms of its application and affordability. I wonder if, with so many Americans working at home, many companies (with a plethora of excuses), will ask employees who want to continue to work from home to install one of these lamps or something similar; clearly it would provide the opportunity to spy on employees and to monitor how much time they actually spend working. A business may make it a work requirement for an employee to install this kind of lamp if he or she wants to continue to work from home. It could also be used to spy on other activities. In fact, for those employees who return to the office, this equipment may be viewed as the ideal tool to watch how productive employees actually are; it could become standard office equipment for those who continue to commute to work.

For those who think this kind of demand is beyond the pale, keep in mind the demands that organizations and government have already made on us, and their efforts are still ongoing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an effort to install these lamps or some other surveillance device. If their use were ubiquitous, where would you go to find a workplace without them?

Let’s just hope they don’t include the lamps who check on whether or not you’re slouching.

Published in Culture
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 37 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Susan Quinn: Let’s just hope they don’t include the lamps who check on whether or not you’re slouching.

    *BUZZ*

    “Oh, for Pete’s sake! I was picking up a paper clip!”

    • #1
  2. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn: I wonder if, with so many Americans working at home, many companies (with a plethora of excuses), will ask employees who want to continue to work from home to install one of these lamps or something similar; clearly it would provide the opportunity to spy on employees and to monitor how much time they actually spend working.

    Employers can already do that with key-loggers and other software.  However, video surveillance is more intimidating, which I believe is the intent . . .

    • #2
  3. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Is there an investment opportunity or me here?   How can I get in on the ground floor of Big Brother, Inc?

    • #3
  4. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    You may be interested to know that this month Amazon Echo Dot and Amazons security camera systems will become Big Brother in your home and you only have until June 8th to opt out of it. https://techaeris.com/2021/05/31/psa-own-amazon-device-disable-amazon-sidewalk-before-june-8/

     

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    You may be interested to know that this month Amazon Echo Dot and Amazons security camera systems will become Big Brother in your home and you only have until June 8th to opt out of it. https://techaeris.com/2021/05/31/psa-own-amazon-device-disable-amazon-sidewalk-before-june-8/

     

    Wow. I was beginning to think this was just my being conspiratorial. I’ve always hated the idea of Alexa and Siri, and am surprised at those who don’t see them as a big deal. Privacy? Yeah, right. Thanks, @vinceguerra.

    • #5
  6. Midwest Southerner Member
    Midwest Southerner
    @MidwestSoutherner

    One of our clients is a tech research analyst firm. We’re in the midst of producing their second virtual tech summit, which goes live on June 14th. The recordings that I’ve been producing and capturing all focus on digital transformation and while some of the advances being made are life changing in good ways, others are downright terrifying. I’m a total tech nerd and gadget lover, but even I’m concerned.

    • #6
  7. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Let’s just hope they don’t include the lamps who check on whether or not you’re slouching.

    *BUZZ*

    “Oh, for Pete’s sake! I was picking up a paper clip!”

    ‘6079 Smith W.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! THAT’S better, comrade.’

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    TBA (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Let’s just hope they don’t include the lamps who check on whether or not you’re slouching.

    *BUZZ*

    “Oh, for Pete’s sake! I was picking up a paper clip!”

    ‘6079 Smith W.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! THAT’S better, comrade.’

    “John Spartan, you are fined one credit for violation of the Verbal Morality Code.”

    It has been too long since I watched Demolition Man

    • #8
  9. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    When you are walking or driving out in public, what privacy rights do you have as far as whether you are present or not and what actions you are taking? 

    • #9
  10. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I wonder if, with so many Americans working at home, many companies (with a plethora of excuses), will ask employees who want to continue to work from home to install one of these lamps or something similar; clearly it would provide the opportunity to spy on employees and to monitor how much time they actually spend working.

    Employers can already do that with key-loggers and other software. However, video surveillance is more intimidating, which I believe is the intent . . .

    Yeah, I can remember we had the capability to know how much time our employees were spending on the net along with looking at porn.

    Of course, from what I read in the news, this is normal activity for federal employees.

    • #10
  11. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Forward deployment of technology ahead of buying 
    America as a wholly-owned enterprise of the Chinese Communist Party. (Sigh)

    • #11
  12. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Hang On (View Comment):

    When you are walking or driving out in public, what privacy rights do you have as far as whether you are present or not and what actions you are taking?

    Good question. On the one hand, it is legal to surveil someone who is either in a public space or visible from one (ex: looking into someone’s home through a window from a public street). On the other hand, stalking is a crime, as is loitering.

    I doubt there’s a clear standard. But we can bet that lobbyists with millions of corporate dollars will shape development of such laws, especially while they are allied with Democrats… and China.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):

    When you are walking or driving out in public, what privacy rights do you have as far as whether you are present or not and what actions you are taking?

    @hangon, I don’t think we have any privacy rights when we are in a public place–on the street, in a restaurant, at the library. So I was not one of those worried about privacy when the cameras showed up. But privacy in the home–I just can’t help thinking of the Left’s push toward Marxism . . . 

    • #13
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    You may be interested to know that this month Amazon Echo Dot and Amazons security camera systems will become Big Brother in your home and you only have until June 8th to opt out of it. https://techaeris.com/2021/05/31/psa-own-amazon-device-disable-amazon-sidewalk-before-june-8/.

    Thank you, Vince, for posting this. Wow. 

    The other part of this will be Facebook. One of the scarier things Facebook has done is store images of people. For now, we should be okay:

    A judge has approved what he called one of the largest-ever settlements of a privacy lawsuit, giving a thumbs-up Friday to Facebook paying $650 million to users who alleged the company created and stored scans of their faces without permission.

    The class-action suit, filed in Illinois in 2015, involved Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology in its photo-tagging feature. With that feature, users can tag friends in photos uploaded to Facebook, creating links to the friends’ profiles.

    The site’s Tag Suggestions program generated automatic suggestions by using scans of previously uploaded images to identify people in newly uploaded shots. The lawsuit alleged that the scans were created without user consent and violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which regulates facial recognition, fingerprinting and other biometric technologies in the state.

    Biometrics is one of the two primary battlegrounds, along with geolocation, that will define our privacy rights for the next generation,” Attorney Jay Edelson, who filed the lawsuit, said in January of 2020. At the time, Facebook had proposed a settlement of $550 million. But the following July, the judge in the case, US District Judge James Donato, said that figure wasn’t high enough.

    The final settlement will “put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” Donato said in his Friday order approving the arrangement. “By any measure, the $650 million settlement … is a landmark result,” he said. “It is one the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.”

    Facebook said in a statement Saturday that it’s “pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders.”

    Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act has affected other companies as well. Sony’s robot dog, Aibo, has a camera in its nose, and facial recognition technology, so it can ID people around it and react accordingly. Consequently, Sony doesn’t sell Aibo in Illinois. And last year, two kids in the state sued Google for allegedly collecting face scans of millions of students through its software tools for classrooms.

    I think Facebook should be ordered to destroy all of the personal data it has been amassing since it opened it doors for business. 

    • #14
  15. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Hang On (View Comment):

    When you are walking or driving out in public, what privacy rights do you have as far as whether you are present or not and what actions you are taking?

    I think you’re looking at it the wrong way.  People have a right to privacy even in public.  The “penumbra” of privacy (without any warrant) is implicit in the Constitution and in people’s concept of civility.  And modern surveillance methods were not conceived of my the Framers.

    But what would they have thought if — you were walking down the street and a man in a black trench coat and a floppy black fedora followed you five feet behind every where you went?  You might quicken your pace, but he would keep up with you.  And this goes on for days, every time you’re out in public.  You might stop in a convenience store to pick up some cereal, and cigars and an ointment for a rash, and you would think that you finally had a bit of privacy, but the man doesn’t wait outside the door but stands behind you and scrutinizes everything you look at, and follows you to the counter and watches you pay for it.

    You want to talk sweet nothings to your girlfriend at the corner before crossing the street, and there is the man standing three feet away listening to every word.

    You meet a friend in a tavern and take a dark booth to talk about work, or a novel you’re writing, or a business proposal, and the man in the black trench coat takes a seat in the booth with you and listens to everything you two talk about.

    This wouldn’t be right, and might be considered harassment or such.  But it is a violation of your privacy.  Not that the man would necessarily do anything with the information, but the lack of privacy itself is an infringement of your freedom.  And then again, yes, what would the man do with all the accumulated information that he gathers?  Why does he want it?

    And fundamentally what right does he have to monitor your every move?

    If this were common behavior in 1789, do you think that the Founders would have approved of this as an unfortunate consequence of freedom?  Or would they have seen it as an infringement of a fundamental right to and expectation of personal privacy, even when in public.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    When you are walking or driving out in public, what privacy rights do you have as far as whether you are present or not and what actions you are taking?

    I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. People have a right to privacy even in public. The “penumbra” of privacy (without any warrant) is implicit in the Constitution and in people’s concept of civility. And modern surveillance methods were not conceived of my the Framers.

    But what would they have thought if — you were walking down the street and a man in a black trench coat and a floppy black fedora followed you five feet behind every where you went? You might quicken your pace, but he would keep up with you. And this goes on for days, every time you’re out in public. You might stop in a convenience store to pick up some cereal, and cigars and an ointment for a rash, and you would think that you finally had a bit of privacy, but the man doesn’t wait outside the door but stands behind you and scrutinizes everything you look at, and follows you to the counter and watches you pay for it.

    You want to talk sweet nothings to your girlfriend at the corner before crossing the street, and there is the man standing three feet away listening to every word.

    You meet a friend in a tavern and take a dark booth to talk about work, or a novel you’re writing, or a business proposal, and the man in the black trench coat takes a seat in the booth with you and listens to everything you two talk about.

    This wouldn’t be right, and might be considered harassment or such. But it is a violation of your privacy. Not that the man would necessarily do anything with the information, but the lack of privacy itself is an infringement of your freedom. And then again, yes, what would the man do with all the accumulated information that he gathers? Why does he want it?

    And fundamentally what right does he have to monitor your every move?

    If this were common behavior in 1789, do you think that the Founders would have approved of this as an unfortunate consequence of freedom? Or would they have seen it as an infringement of a fundamental right to and expectation of personal privacy, even when in public.

    Very interesting, @flicker. But the first question that came to mind for me is, at what point when you are in public is your privacy being violated? Three feet away? Five feet away? I think there might be other ways to address the questions: the guy following you everywhere is stalking; the person who is standing nearby, listening to a conversation can be asked politely to leave. (You don’t even know if he’s listening–he might be deaf or waiting to go into the bathroom.) I guess I’ve seen too many situations where people assumed what others were doing or what their intentions were, and they could have been wrong. It’s a sticky call.

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I am a longtime objector to the surveilled state and home.

    First, there is a strong connection between the surveillance state and the suppression of speech and the effectiveness of the “cancel culture” movement: people are self-censoring out of a well-grounded fear of being caught. A society in which people are afraid to voice their opinion is a sick society.

    Second, one element in effective discipline programs for children is that of constant surveillance. When kids know they will be caught if they try to do something against the rules, they stop doing it (unless they have a mental illness or personality disorder). It’s human nature. However, living in a surveillance state is dangerous to the human psyche. Kids can tolerate it because they know there is an end in sight. Adults can’t. It’s distracting.

    Finally, it is a national security issue. It gives our enemies way too much access to personal information on Americans.

    People are accepting of it now because it feels as though we still have a choice. “Well, I just won’t work for that company.” “I’ll stay off Facebook.” “I won’t walk down that street.” “They are using it only to catch criminals and terrorists. I’m neither.” But I don’t think people would be accepting of it if they knew the true short- and long-term risks involved.

    I believe strongly that it should be against the law to store any personal information longer than six months. All personal information transmitted electronically should have a self-destruct code embedded with it. In many ways, the dangers were glossed over by the government and the companies that collect and sell that information to the government.

    In an interesting episode of Foyle’s War, the town was preparing for an increasingly likely invasion by the Germans. They hid or destroyed all of their lists of citizens, and they took down all the street signs. The second measure would disorient the Germans but also put another barrier in between the Nazis and the town’s citizens. If the Nazis didn’t know Citizen John Smith existed, they wouldn’t go looking for him.

    This is the same national security issue that exists today. The massive databases of personal information are dangerous because they can be hacked and because they will attract evil. They are just sitting there like tempting piles of gold.

    There was a time when we were arguing that religion was good for people in general, for many reasons. We took action. We didn’t want to have a single state religion, but we did want to create a religion-friendly environment. Consequently, there was George W. Bush’s 2001 faith-based initiatives project, and before that there was the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (at that time often informally called the Freedom For Religion Act).

    We need to launch a similar movement geared to the collection, storage, and use of personal data.

    • #17
  18. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Very interesting, @flicker. But the first question that came to mind for me is, at what point when you are in public is your privacy being violated? Three feet away? Five feet away? I think there might be other ways to address the questions: the guy following you everywhere is stalking; the person who is standing nearby, listening to a conversation can be asked politely to leave. (You don’t even know if he’s listening–he might be deaf or waiting to go into the bathroom.) I guess I’ve seen too many situations where people assumed what others were doing or what their intentions were, and they could have been wrong. It’s a sticky call.

    From what I understand that technology exists and is being phased in that city cameras have microphones to record conversations within several feet.  But my metaphor — not really a metaphor but a hypothetical example — was to point out the similarity between a human being monitoring you every second in public, and recordings being collated by a central computer that is monitored by personnel monitoring you.

    There have always been peeping Toms and eavesdroppers, but my understanding is that in places like East Germany this was taken to an extent that (very loosely speaking) half the population was actively spying on the other half (and being spied on itself).  In my example, the Framers of the Constitution would have known that you can’t have one person following another person around 16 hours a day, and so it was inconceivable that such a thing could happen.  But today, with technology  this is possible.

    The metaphor, I suppose, is that the man in black was google, or facebook, or twitter, or the NSA or the Postal Service (which is now being proposed to search NSA databases); or the many companies that collate credit card buying information, or the stores that are installing facial recognition cameras (at the cash register?).

    There has always been a presumption that people are generally not to be surveilled, or spied upon — and this went along with the ridiculousness of even trying to surveil everyone.  But now it is upon us, and the questions as to what the limits of surveillance [privacy] are, are the wrong questions.  The Constitution seems to imply, or take for granted, that all surveillance is wrong (or wrong-ish), and today we have to decide what surveillance is ever allowable, not where — or how close to the bathroom or the bedroom, or the living room — our privacy ends.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MarciN (View Comment):
    People are accepting of it now because it feels as though we still have a choice. “Well, I just won’t work for that company.” “I’ll stay off Facebook.” “I won’t walk down that street.” “They are using it only to catch criminals and terrorists. I’m neither.” But I don’t think people would be accepting of it if they knew the true short- and long-term risks involved.

    I’m in full agreement with all you say, @marcin. The direction in which we are headed is insidious and dangerous.

    • #19
  20. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Very interesting, @ flicker. SNIP at what point when you are in public is your privacy being violated? Three feet away? Five feet away? SNIP  the guy following you everywhere is stalking; the person who is standing nearby, listening to a conversation can be asked politely to leave. SNIP

    From what I understand that technology exists and is being phased in that city cameras have microphones to record conversations withing several feet. But my metaphor — not really a metaphor but a hypothetical example — was to point out the similarity between a human being monitoring you every second in public, and recordings being collated by a central computer that is monitored by personnel monitoring you.

    There have always been peeping Toms and eavesdroppers, but my understanding is that in places like East Germany this was taken to an extent that (very loosely speaking) half the population was actively spying on the other half (and being spied on itself). In my example, the Framers of the Constitution would have known that you can’t have one person following another person around 16 hours a day, and so it was inconceivable that such a thing could happen. But today, with technology this is possible.

    The metaphor, I suppose, is that the man in black was google, or facebook, or twitter, or the NSA or the Postal Service (which is now being proposed to search NSA databases); or the many companies that collate credit card buying information, or the stores that are installing facial recognition cameras (at the cash register?).

    There has always been a presumption that people are generally not to be surveilled, or spied upon — and this went along with the ridiculousness of even trying to surveil everyone. SNIP the questions as to what the limits of surveillance are, are the wrong questions. The Constitution seems to imply, or take for granted, that all surveillance is wrong (or wrong-ish), and today we have to decide what surveillance is ever allowable, not where — or how close to the bathroom or the bedroom, or the living room — our privacy ends.

    “The Guardian” over in Britain is carrying an article this week which details how Americans only have to June 8th 2021 to opt out of having their Ring and other home devices to become enmeshed with the Cloud data collection system run by the company that  owns Ring.

    I am not sure that any American Media Mafia outlet   is bringing this information forward.

    Our society is now officially backwards – police departments which just two years ago were expected to keep tabs on Evil Doers are being de-funded and disbanded, while  what goes on inside our homes, which were supposedly protected by the very necessary Fourth Amendment, are now places where everything will be  passed on to the New Higher Tech Authorities!

    As Kurt Vonnegut used to say: “And so it goes.”

     

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Very interesting, @ flicker. SNIP at what point when you are in public is your privacy being violated? Three feet away? Five feet away? SNIP the guy following you everywhere is stalking; the person who is standing nearby, listening to a conversation can be asked politely to leave. SNIP

    From what I understand that technology exists and is being phased in that city cameras have microphones to record conversations withing several feet. But my metaphor — not really a metaphor but a hypothetical example — was to point out the similarity between a human being monitoring you every second in public, and recordings being collated by a central computer that is monitored by personnel monitoring you.

    There have always been peeping Toms and eavesdroppers, but my understanding is that in places like East Germany this was taken to an extent that (very loosely speaking) half the population was actively spying on the other half (and being spied on itself). In my example, the Framers of the Constitution would have known that you can’t have one person following another person around 16 hours a day, and so it was inconceivable that such a thing could happen. But today, with technology this is possible.

    The metaphor, I suppose, is that the man in black was google, or facebook, or twitter, or the NSA or the Postal Service (which is now being proposed to search NSA databases); or the many companies that collate credit card buying information, or the stores that are installing facial recognition cameras (at the cash register?).

    There has always been a presumption that people are generally not to be surveilled, or spied upon — and this went along with the ridiculousness of even trying to surveil everyone. SNIP the questions as to what the limits of surveillance are, are the wrong questions. The Constitution seems to imply, or take for granted, that all surveillance is wrong (or wrong-ish), and today we have to decide what surveillance is ever allowable, not where — or how close to the bathroom or the bedroom, or the living room — our privacy ends.

    The Guardian over in Britain is carrying an article this week which details how Americans only have to June 8th 2021 to opt out of having their Ring and other home devices to become enmeshed with the Cloud data collection system run by the company that owns Ring.

    I am not sure any American Media Mafia is bringing this information forward.

    Our society is now officially backwards – police departments which just two years ago were expected to keep tabs on evil doers are being de-funded and disbanded, while what goes on inside our homes, which were supposedly protected by the Fourth Amendment, are now places where everything will be passed on to the New Higher Tech Authorities!

     

    So true! I think this change is what Vince was referring to in Comment #4. But I doubt the MSM is trumpeting the change!

    • #21
  22. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    MarciN (View Comment):

    You may be interested to know that this month Amazon Echo Dot and Amazons security camera systems will become Big Brother in your home and you only have until June 8th to opt out of it. https://techaeris.com/2021/05/31/psa-own-amazon-device-disable-amazon-sidewalk-before-june-8/.

    Thank you, Vince, for posting this. Wow.

    The other part of this will be Facebook. One of the scarier things Facebook has done is store images of people. For now, we should be okay:

    A judge has approved what he called one of the largest-ever settlements of a privacy lawsuit, giving a thumbs-up Friday to Facebook paying $650 million to users who alleged the company created and stored scans of their faces without permission.

    The class-action suit, filed in Illinois in 2015, involved Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology in its photo-tagging feature. With that feature, users can tag friends in photos uploaded to Facebook, creating links to the friends’ profiles.

    The site’s Tag Suggestions program generated automatic suggestions by using scans of previously uploaded images to identify people in newly uploaded shots. The lawsuit alleged that the scans were created without user consent and violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which regulates facial recognition, fingerprinting and other biometric technologies in the state.

    “Biometrics is one of the two primary battlegrounds, along with geolocation, that will define our privacy rights for the next generation,” Attorney Jay Edelson, who filed the lawsuit, said in January of 2020. At the time, Facebook had proposed a settlement of $550 million. But the following July, the judge in the case, US District Judge James Donato, said that figure wasn’t high enough.

    The final settlement will “put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” Donato said in his Friday order approving the arrangement. “By any measure, the $650 million settlement … is a landmark result,” he said. “It is one the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.”

    Facebook said in a statement Saturday that it’s “pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders.”

    Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act has affected other companies as well. Sony’s robot dog, Aibo, has a camera in its nose, and facial recognition technology, so it can ID people around it and react accordingly. Consequently, Sony doesn’t sell Aibo in Illinois. And last year, two kids in the state sued Google for allegedly collecting face scans of millions of students through its software tools for classrooms.

    You wrote it a bit differently, and I fixed it for you! “I think Facebook should be ordered to destroyed all of the personal data it has been amassing since it opened it doors for business.”

     

     

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    From what I understand that technology exists and is being phased in that city cameras have microphones to record conversations withing several feet. But my metaphor — not really a metaphor but a hypothetical example — was to point out the similarity between a human being monitoring you every second in public, and recordings being collated by a central computer that is monitored by personnel monitoring you.

    There have always been peeping Toms and eavesdroppers, but my understanding is that in places like East Germany this was taken to an extent that (very loosely speaking) half the population was actively spying on the other half (and being spied on itself). In my example, the Framers of the Constitution would have known that you can’t have one person following another person around 16 hours a day, and so it was inconceivable that such a thing could happen. But today, with technology this is possible.

    The metaphor, I suppose, is that the man in black was google, or facebook, or twitter, or the NSA or the Postal Service (which is now being proposed to search NSA databases); or the many companies that collate credit card buying information, or the stores that are installing facial recognition cameras (at the cash register?).

    There has always been a presumption that people are generally not to be surveilled, or spied upon — and this went along with the ridiculousness of even trying to surveil everyone. SNIP the questions as to what the limits of surveillance are, are the wrong questions. The Constitution seems to imply, or take for granted, that all surveillance is wrong (or wrong-ish), and today we have to decide what surveillance is ever allowable, not where — or how close to the bathroom or the bedroom, or the living room — our privacy ends.

    “The Guardian” over in Britain is carrying an article this week which details how Americans only have to June 8th 2021 to opt out of having their Ring and other home devices to become enmeshed with the Cloud data collection system run by the company that owns Ring.

    I am not sure that any American Media Mafia outlet is bringing this information forward.

    Our society is now officially backwards – police departments which just two years ago were expected to keep tabs on Evil Doers are being de-funded and disbanded, while what goes on inside our homes, which were supposedly protected by the very necessary Fourth Amendment, are now places where everything will be passed on to the New Higher Tech Authorities!

    As Kurt Vonnegut used to say: “And so it goes.”

    You raise a good point.  Civil law enforcement is being actively degraded and removed, while corporate-based surveillance — from banks to social media — with it’s law enforcement potential is being raised in law enforcement’s place.

    • #23
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. People have a right to privacy even in public. The “penumbra” of privacy (without any warrant) is implicit in the Constitution and in people’s concept of civility. And modern surveillance methods were not conceived of my the Framers.

    [Man in Trench Coat analogy] 

    This wouldn’t be right, and might be considered harassment or such. But it is a violation of your privacy. Not that the man would necessarily do anything with the information, but the lack of privacy itself is an infringement of your freedom. And then again, yes, what would the man do with all the accumulated information that he gathers? Why does he want it?

    And fundamentally what right does he have to monitor your every move?

    If this were common behavior in 1789, do you think that the Founders would have approved of this as an unfortunate consequence of freedom? Or would they have seen it as an infringement of a fundamental right to and expectation of personal privacy, even when in public.

    Very interesting, @ flicker. But the first question that came to mind for me is, at what point when you are in public is your privacy being violated? Three feet away? Five feet away? I think there might be other ways to address the questions: the guy following you everywhere is stalking; the person who is standing nearby, listening to a conversation can be asked politely to leave. (You don’t even know if he’s listening–he might be deaf or waiting to go into the bathroom.) I guess I’ve seen too many situations where people assumed what others were doing or what their intentions were, and they could have been wrong. It’s a sticky call.

    I would like to point out that our telephone conversations may not be recorded by third parties. But the rest of our lives may be. This seems wrong. I don’t have an answer, but I do know that the casual recording of all that we say or do, absent Miranda warnings, is an outrageous affront to freedom. 

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    You may be interested to know that this month Amazon Echo Dot and Amazons security camera systems will become Big Brother in your home and you only have until June 8th to opt out of it. https://techaeris.com/2021/05/31/psa-own-amazon-device-disable-amazon-sidewalk-before-june-8/

     

    Are Blink cameras impacted by this too?

    • #25
  26. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    TBA (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. People have a right to privacy even in public. The “penumbra” of privacy (without any warrant) is implicit in the Constitution and in people’s concept of civility. And modern surveillance methods were not conceived of my the Framers.

    [Man in Trench Coat analogy]

    This wouldn’t be right, and might be considered harassment or such. But it is a violation of your privacy. Not that the man would necessarily do anything with the information, but the lack of privacy itself is an infringement of your freedom. And then again, yes, what would the man do with all the accumulated information that he gathers? Why does he want it?

    And fundamentally what right does he have to monitor your every move?

    If this were common behavior in 1789, do you think that the Founders would have approved of this as an unfortunate consequence of freedom? Or would they have seen it as an infringement of a fundamental right to and expectation of personal privacy, even when in public.

    Very interesting, @ flicker. But the first question that came to mind for me is, at what point when you are in public is your privacy being violated? Three feet away? Five feet away? I think there might be other ways to address the questions: the guy following you everywhere is stalking; the person who is standing nearby, listening to a conversation can be asked politely to leave. (You don’t even know if he’s listening–he might be deaf or waiting to go into the bathroom.) I guess I’ve seen too many situations where people assumed what others were doing or what their intentions were, and they could have been wrong. It’s a sticky call.

    I would like to point out that our telephone conversations may not be recorded by third parties. But the rest of our lives may be. This seems wrong. I don’t have an answer, but I do know that the casual recording of all that we say or do, absent Miranda warnings, is an outrageous affront to freedom.

    Yes, you bring up an excellent point.  Apparently there used to be an expectation of privacy and an implicit moral rule that guided the law regarding private conversations remaining private, even when using public communications services.  Now a private conversation on the street is fair game for recording.

    Oh, and one more thing.  Daleiden has been charged with criminal activity, and also ordered to pay 1.6 million dollars in civil damages for simply recording conversations in public places, which apparently have been determined to have legally enjoyed an expectation of privacy.

    But if Daleiden was doing something illegal by recording a private conversation taking place in a public venue, then by what right can street cameras record all citizens randomly in a public place without a warrant?

    • #26
  27. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    You may be interested to know that this month Amazon Echo Dot and Amazons security camera systems will become Big Brother in your home and you only have until June 8th to opt out of it. https://techaeris.com/2021/05/31/psa-own-amazon-device-disable-amazon-sidewalk-before-june-8

    I liken it more to SkyNet than Big Brother.   What is the over/under on the number of days until the mesh gets hacked?  10??

    • #27
  28. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    This is why I am not a fan of the internet of things.  If I do home automation, I want to control it and build it myself.

    • #28
  29. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    This is why I am not a fan of the internet of things. If I do home automation, I want to control it and build it myself.

    With you.  We have a 120 year-old house and nothing is automated.  I like it that way.  My smart phone has only the apps it came with (plus a couple of personal interest ones) and nothing financial; anything that can be disabled has been.  My husband still uses a flip phone.  I still feel over-observed, am convinced my cell-phone is listening to me even though I refused its “personal assistant,” and won’t stay in a hotel room equipped with Alexa or anything similar.  I’d love to add security cameras on our front porch, but I’m concerned about them being turned back on me.

    To expand on the question of personal privacy when out in public, how is it legal for random people to record other random people on cellphone video and then post the recordings on the internet without permission of those recorded?  Those airplane or grocery store melt-down videos and the like have cost people jobs, reputations, even their lives.  How is this morally acceptable?

    • #29
  30. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Caryn (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    This is why I am not a fan of the internet of things. If I do home automation, I want to control it and build it myself.

    With you. We have a 120 year-old house and nothing is automated. I like it that way. My smart phone has only the apps it came with (plus a couple of personal interest ones) and nothing financial; anything that can be disabled has been. My husband still uses a flip phone. I still feel over-observed, am convinced my cell-phone is listening to me even though I refused its “personal assistant,” and won’t stay in a hotel room equipped with Alexa or anything similar. I’d love to add security cameras on our front porch, but I’m concerned about them being turned back on me.

    To expand on the question of personal privacy when out in public, how is it legal for random people to record other random people on cellphone video and then post the recordings on the internet without permission of those recorded? Those airplane or grocery store melt-down videos and the like have cost people jobs, reputations, even their lives. How is this morally acceptable?

    The keys to safe automation is simple:

    1. Understand the system from end to end.  For example, a camera could just consist of a camera and video cable leading to a monitor.  That’s secure from 95% of threats.  A wired camera is going to be much more secure than a wireless camera, since you can follow the path from end to end.
    2. Maintain the air-gap.  Nothing should connect through the internet directly unless absolutely necessary, and nothing should be on the wifi if you need high security.  Disable any remote access on routers or other devices. 
    • #30