Digital surveillance systems: We (may) reap what we sow

Technology has an almost irresistible lure. When we build systems for surveillance, experience teaches that we will inevitably use them for purposes other than those for which they were originally designed. Last weekend, the Stanford Technology Law Review held a symposium on the Fourth Amendment, at which participants asked whether traditional conceptions of constitutional privacy are adequate when modern technology tracks personal information in entirely new ways…..Just as laws are used outside of their initial boundaries, terrorism-inspired surveillance infrastructures will be used for other purposes as well. Professor Jeffrey Rosen wrote an article in The New York Times in 2001 showing that surveillance cameras in London, which were put up to combat the threat of terrorism from the Irish Republican Army, are actually used to intimidate vagrants and punks — and, predictably, to ogle women.

Read this article from WIRED and Rosen’s 2001 article (free login req’d) in the New York Times…and for fun, someone just patented a hidden iris-scanner.

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Filed under Privacy, The Politics of New Media, The Reading Room

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