The great surveillance debate is about to heat up again, as President Obama has proposed reforms to the FISA court process in an attempt to address the criticisms of the NSA surveillance program. It will be fascinating to see how this debate evolves. Many of the reforms seem to make sense and suggest a willingness to reach a consensus on this issue. Still, many critics were not impressed. We’ll see how this goes.
Things are getting interesting in California. Tech companies are fighting privacy advocates over a California bill that would require companies like Facebook, Google and other social networks to disclose to users the personal data the services have collected and with whom they have shared it. It doesn’t restrict what they can do, but the disclosure requirements are still very controversial and could be very expensive.
We can gripe all we want about privacy, but the plain fact is that we can now be recorded for video and sound just about anywhere.
Of course this is useful for fun for people interested in tracking others, and that’ where surveillance gadgets come into play. With super-small HD video recorders, we’re seeing all sorts of surveillance and video recording equipment getting pushed in the consumer market. Now anyone can channel their inner 007 and spy on others.
Above we have a photo of the new Sony Digital Binoculars priced at $1,999.
Along the same lines we have the Pivothead HD Recording Sunglasses which can be used to record everything around you with POV video. You can record your adventures, but also record other people of course.
Just keep in mind your local privacy laws when using these devices. It’s one thing to record video out in public, but it’s quite another to record people when they have an expectation of privacy.
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Here’s a fascinating story of how car insurance companies can monitor your driving.
Of course this is voluntary monitoring, and safe drivers can save money on their car insurance, but it raises all sorts of privacy issues. What’s next? Will health insurers want constant monitoring of our heart rates to see if we are exercising?
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A recent case highlighted new challenges for privacy in the modern world. Cops placed a GPS tracker on the car of a criminal suspect without getting a warrant. Fortunately, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court decision that ruled that this was a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which prevents unreasonable searches without a warrant.
The court, however, declined to go further. Issues on other types of electronic surveillance will be left to another day.
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