Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Secrecy, Paranoia and Daily Life

Last year a spy movie franchise based on Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne series hit movie watchers with a cornucopia of paranoia and high tech fears. Was it all fiction or perhaps just the edge of how vast and responsive surveillance and security can be?

The movie boasted scenes of drone attacks sending missiles at single individuals, embedded tracking chips, secret drug controlled assassins, a secret room with the tech crews to combine and search every camera on the planet, and on and on. And just last week the paranoia hit the US Senate as Senator Rand Paul took the floor and for 13 hours worried aloud about the abilities of drone programs run by the federal government.

Both Ludlum and Rand however are sadly out of date. Our nation has pushed past surveillance and civil liberty standards 12 years ago. Let's look at some basics of where we really are --

-- Right now it is county sheriffs and state police which are working to deploy drone surveillance, which easily by-passes federal laws or protections. The military-industrial research on Smart Dust is approaching reality and reduces the size of a drone to dust motes.

-- The creepy invasion of laptops and more by deviants who want to spy on girls and raid their personal files is surely shocking. And that same software was used by Syria recently to spy and oppose rebel forces' communications and battle plans.

-- A rise in commercial research into data acquisition in the last few decades now operates at stunning levels, and information is the endless edge of weaponry and surveillance, and many folks are happy to pay for the devices and apps that track them. Combine the info we are fairly sure we provide without thought with the info secretly acquired, and most details about you are easily found.

Returning to some previous world of less surveillance will simply not happen. The software that might be looking at you, though, can also look at the lookers.