Jan 312012

My latest is a short piece on the state of surveillance in Vancouver. This wasn’t my idea, but I’ve been interested in privacy and surveillance issues for a while, and I took the gig.

I had assumed there would be clear laws about where you can put surveillance cameras, whether as private citizens or as business, but the laws regarding this are pretty vague. There are stronger laws about keeping records of other people’s personal information (which includes their likeness.) There’s also a lot of obfuscation about the city government and police’s use of surveillance.

Surveillance is becoming a big issue. When you get right down to it, Google and Facebook and Twitter aren’t offering all these services for free out of generosity. They are businesses, and a large part of their business is selling information about the people who use their services to other businesses. It may be anonymized or otherwise restricted for people’s privacy, but that is still what they do.

Google is rapidly becoming something like the Minds in Iain M. Bank’ s Culture books: nearly all-knowing artificial intelligences so powerful, and so essential, that the humans can only cross their fingers and hope that they aren’t doing anything bad, or if they are, it’s for the humans’ own good.


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