As cameras become ubiquitous and able to identify people, more safeguards on privacy will be needed
“THIS season there is something at the seaside worse than sharks,” declared a newspaper in 1890. “It is the amateur photographer.” The invention of the handheld camera appalled 19th-century society, as did the “Kodak fiends” who patrolled beaches snapping sunbathers.
More than a century later, amateur photography is once more a troubling issue. Citizens of rich countries have got used to being watched by closed-circuit cameras that guard roads and cities. But as cameras shrink and the cost of storing data plummets, it is individuals who are taking the pictures.
Through a Glass, darkly
Some 10,000 people are already testing a prototype of Google Glass, a miniature computer worn like spectacles (see article). It aims to replicate all the functions of a smartphone in a device perched on a person’s nose. Its flexible frame holds both a camera and a tiny screen, and makes it easy for users to take photos, send messages and search for things online.
Glass may fail, but a wider revolution is under way. In Russia, where insurance fraud is rife, at least 1m cars already have cameras on their dashboards that film the road ahead. Police forces in America are starting to issue officers with video cameras, pinned to their uniforms, which record their interactions with the public. Collar-cams help anxious cat-lovers keep tabs on their wandering pets. Paparazzi have started to use drones to photograph celebrities in their gardens or on yachts. Hobbyists are even devising clever ways to get cameras into space.
Ubiquitous recording can already do a lot of good. Some patients with brain injuries have been given cameras: looking back at images can help them recover their memories. Dash-cams can help resolve insurance claims and encourage people to drive better. Police-cams can discourage criminals from making groundless complaints against police officers and officers from abusing detainees. A British soldier has just been convicted of murdering a wounded Afghan because the act was captured by a colleague’s helmet-camera. Videos showing the line of sight of experienced surgeons and engineers can help train their successors and be used in liability disputes. Lenses linked to computers are reading street-signs and product labels to partially sighted people.
Optimists see broader benefits ahead. Plenty of people carry activity trackers, worn on the wrist or placed in a pocket, to monitor their exercise or sleep patterns; cameras could do the job more effectively, perhaps also spying on their wearers’ diets. “Personal black boxes” might be able to transmit pictures if their owner falls victim to an accident or crime. Tiny cameras trained to recognise faces could become personal digital assistants, making conversations as searchable as documents and e-mails. Already a small band of “life-loggers” squirrel away years of footage into databases of “e-memories”.
Not everybody will be thrilled by these prospects. A perfect digital memory would probably be a pain, preserving unhappy events as well as cherished ones. Suspicious spouses and employers might feel entitled to review it.
The bigger worry is for those in front of the cameras, not behind them. School bullies already use illicit snaps from mobile phones to embarrass their victims. The web throngs with furtive photos of women, snapped in public places. Wearable cameras will make such surreptitious photography easier. And the huge, looming issue is the growing sophistication of face-recognition technologies, which are starting to enable businesses and governments to extract information about individuals by scouring the billions of images online. The combination of cameras everywhere—in bars, on streets, in offices, on people’s heads—with the algorithms run by social networks and other service providers that process stored and published images is a powerful and alarming one. We may not be far from a world in which your movements could be tracked all the time, where a stranger walking down the street can immediately identify exactly who you are.
The Latest on: Safeguards on privacy
via Google News
The Latest on: Safeguards on privacy
- Claims disgraced bishop failed to safeguard people in dioceseon October 20, 2019 at 10:52 pm
Both requests were denied. The Wellington-based academic has now demanded to see the report by the end of this week or he would take legal action under the Privacy Act. He suspects a report wasn't ...
- Delays in privacy laws are costing South Africans money and securityon October 20, 2019 at 6:56 pm
Don’t be deceived by the podium finish. With a score of 3.04 out of five, South Africa may rank third on the list of countries actively protecting the privacy of citizens, but when this figure ...
- OAIC consults on CDR privacy ruleson October 20, 2019 at 1:37 pm
The OAIC has been tasked by government with developing guidelines to help companies working under the new data-sharing regime to not breach the associated privacy safeguards. The Consumer Data Right, ...
- Is AI more threat than promise? Tech developers join activists in calling for new safeguardson October 20, 2019 at 7:59 am
That decision balanced business innovation with consumer privacy, said Vinay Narayan ... “We realized we built a really powerful tool and while we put in a lot of technology safeguards, we don’t know ...
- Colorado votes on tax regime embraced by conservativeson October 19, 2019 at 11:55 am
Opponents say it's just a first step to weaken or eliminate a safeguard that's allowed the private sector to fuel Colorado's robust ... I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site ...
- India fails in privacy safeguards, says studyon October 19, 2019 at 5:30 am
but it is next only to Russia and China when it comes to its surveillance framework and is dubbed as a country with “systemic failure to maintain privacy safeguards”. India scored 2.4 out of 5 ...
- Privacy Bill Could Put Dishonest Tech Execs Behind Barson October 18, 2019 at 12:28 pm
A congressional privacy hawk wants to put the power of people’s personal ... Commission resources and six new authorities to establish stricter protections that safeguard Americans’ data and impose ...
- Ireland tops global ranking for privacy protection but safeguards only ‘adequate’on October 18, 2019 at 8:27 am
The country was given a score of 3.2 out of five in the Comparitech study, which judged countries on their use of biometrics, CCTV, their data sharing and retention laws and other areas of privacy ...
- Revisiting Legacy Restrictions on the Intelligence Community’s Handling of SIGINT Data on Non-Americanson October 17, 2019 at 7:16 am
Why are U.S. intelligence agencies still applying extraordinary safeguards to the incidentally collected communications of Chinese, Russian and Iranian citizens as well as the nationals of EU allies ...
- Make sure your health apps don't invade your privacyon October 17, 2019 at 3:47 am
With any health related app, it's important to take steps to safeguard your personal information ... According to Consumer Reports, when it comes to privacy, medical apps follow different rules from ...
via Bing News