I’ve been lobbying the city of Eureka for two things for a few years now:
1. LPRs (License Plate Readers) on all EPD vehicles and the north/south entrances to our town and 2. Cameras throughout Old Town and downtown.Pretty simple, huh? Only I’ve been getting blowback from various privacy rights groups. My rebuttal is, what expectation of privacy do you have in public? Do you think cameras might deter knuckleheads from doing stupid things knowing they’re being recorded? Many businesses now have cameras in the workplace. If you work for or are a customer in a bank, casino, retail or grocery store, you understand there are cameras everywhere recording everything. As long as you’re not doing anything illegal, who cares? They’re there for the businesses and your safety and protection. If you’ve ever traveled abroad to England or China, you understand there are cameras everywhere. These two countries have eyes on most public places.
In the old days, we had to place assets (human spies) on the ground in foreign countries for “humint” (human intelligence: listening to conversations and following people to see where they go). No need for that today as we all tell the world every detail of our lives. Anyone with a smart phone gives a vast array of companies and governments your entire life history and all your habits. Every website you view, your computer or cell phone leaves “cookies” (pieces of information sent by a web server to a user’s browser), which is why I always clear my cookies and cache daily, if not throughout the day. Whenever you purchase something online, you leave a trail of “cookies” of your name, address, phone number, credit card info and your buying habits. These are sold to other marketing firms.
Most all apps you download on your smart phone track your physical movements throughout the day. Google, Apple and Verizon share with millions of their users locations traffic patterns showing us where we have green (smooth traffic) and red (traffic jams) on our maps and driving apps. Uber (the ride sharing company) was tracking their riders for five minutes after the ride ended, prompting Big Brother concerns. Say you were a congressman who told his spouse that he was “working late” and Uber collected data that you were being dropped off at a young female intern’s apartment in Georgetown. Potentially damaging?
I recently got a new laptop and the first thing I did was tape over the webcam. My wife looks at me and says, “Paranoid?” Next thing I know my Verizon cell phone responds with, “Not really. We track your every movement. Do you really think your phone calls are ‘private’? Do you think we’re not listening in the background when your cell phone is just sitting there?”
Then on my wife’s Apple, cell Siri comes to life says, “Ya know all those questions you ask me? We keep track of every single one of them. Plus all your phone calls and texts. There all available to any corporation or government agency. Oh, and we also track your every movement. Do you think Apple is devious enough to listen into your conversations and in the background when you think your phone is off?”
Next Google tells me, “You know we scan every email sent or received as our algorithms look for words to sell to advertisers of your habits. We know all your contacts. We track every web search you’ve ever done, including those weird Japanese bondage sites. Don’t worry, Google won’t tell anybody you’re a freak.”
hen Amazon’s Alexa device tells us, “You were stupid enough to put me in your home. What did you think we would do? Of course we’re recording every conversation in the home. We track every purchase you make on Amazon and sell this data to other advertisers. Amazon knows more about you then your therapist.” My RING (purchased by Amazon) camera on my doorbell tells me, “We have records of everyone who has come or gone to our home since installed, including the tweakers on your porch at 3 a.m. and Mr. Bear, who like to occasionally roam the neighborhood at night.” Facebook just laughed and said, “Are you freakin’ kidding me? You tell the whole world your every thought and share every selfie.”
So instead of worrying about cameras in public, maybe we should be more aware of how corporate America is tracking your every thoughts and movements as you allow them to.
Matthew Owen resides in Eureka.