Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Big Data

"So Marseille, by American standards, isn’t exactly dangerous. But now it’s in the process of deploying a new tool in its fight against “insecurity”: drones. Purpose? Systematic aerial surveillance by day or night of certain hot areas of housing projects to spy on drug dealers, and on anyone else who happens to be there.

Marseille is not even on the forefront – neither in crimes nor in drones. That honor goes to cities around the world, including American cities like Oakland, in Alameda County, across the Bay from San Francisco.

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern hatched a plan last October to add drones to his toolkit for some “proactive policing” – for example, to scour large areas for pot farms, he said. Worried citizens have interpreted this to mean that the drones would be deployed to spy on high-crime neighborhoods and tail people cheaply for hours at a time. Oakland police tested different models. On their wish list: something that can fly for hours at an altitude of 400 feet and comes with high-definition cameras, license plate readers, thermal imaging devices, and so on.

The proposal smacked into resistance from the ACLU of Northern California. It observed on its blog that “when law enforcement has powerful and dangerous tools in its arsenal, it will use them.” Drones raised “enormous privacy concerns” and could “easily be abused.”

Surveillance technology has a way of being unstoppable. As the Snowden revelations have shown, once pandemic surveillance – collecting any data on anyone by electronic means, storing it forever, and mining it on a constant basis – became a low-cost affair, corporations and government agencies, often in cahoots with each other, have jumped on it. Now it’s standard operating procedure. And part of a promising growth business: Big Data."

Mostly Cloudy With Occasional Drones In The Afternoon - ZH

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