Welcome to the Society of Surveillance

One may wonder how many times a day he or she appears on camera. Well, if you live in a major city such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, or Miami, chances are it could be dozens upon dozens of times. From the moment a person the house to the time he or she arrives home, multiple images of that person have been computed and stored in data bases ranging from gas stations to grocery and department stores to the post office.

     A typical day may start like this. The person leaves his/her apartment or house. Welcome to the days of the landlord where cameras are placed at the mailboxes, entrances and exits, and the leasing office not to mention the workout room. My neighbors and I were used to having off duty officers working as private security guards walking around the complex. After driving off, I would encounter multiple cameras at the traffic lights. Anyone familiar with the traffic cameras knows the stress of  accidently crossing the yellow line and having a little on the spot photo shoot which usually sends out a ticket costing 378.00. Yes, I actually had a neighbor whom ran through two stoplights in a day which cost her close to 800.00 just to get to work.  On top of the fun little traffic lights, there is the almighty motorcycle cop looking like he just came off the show “CHIPS.” Some of the officers are nice while others seem to revel in hanging out with their radar guns and having fun pointing them at your car while you are driving by. (I actually came across a story where a tree was clocked going 65 MPH-evidently there were some calibration issues.) 

     After getting to work, the well photographed individual gets to walk past more cameras into the lobby of the office or where they are working. (Let’s face it- cameras are everywhere.) There are cameras in the grocery stores, gas stations, casinos, shops, malls, (and even evidently in certain bathrooms at coffee shops in the mall) workplace, post office and now the good old dentist and doctor!) Yes, this actually happened to me yesterday. After signing in and giving my dental history on the computer, I actually had to “smile” for the camera and have a picture taken for my records. I was also retold about how dentists like to put their initials on people’s crowns just to let them know they were there.  Welcome to the digital age! Now the doctors and dentists are told to photograph their patients and include the picture in the records. (So much for privacy.)

    While on the subject of cameras, let’s get to the fun little day at the DMV. Yes, I had the guided tour where I was told that the new licenses are very “high tech.” After being informed that the DMV was able to take the pictures with “facial recognition.” I was told, “Our program in pretty much the same as the top government ones that would be used by the CIA or NSA.”  I decided to play the ditzy blonde and see how irritating I could be. I asked the question, “What if my picture doesn’t turn out, can you redo this?” (Years ago, I was actually able to get my request granted.) I was told that this was “not an option” and I was evidently not taking the DMV photo shoot seriously enough. I decided to get a little curious and ask, “What happens if a person dyes his hair or a woman wears a lot of make-up? Does this change the image?” The answer was an emphatic “No!” Evidently, the computer program is so high tech, it can account for all variations in a person’s looks.  By the way, the new licenses’ also come with a complimentary RFID chip! Wow, facial recognition and the chip, what more could a driver ask for?

    I often wonder how criminals can get away, especially in a car chase. Let’s face it, the police can use the old “eye in the sky” and track them via helicopters’ while they are being monitored at the “central command” center of the police station. On top of this, there are the forces “on the ground” not to mention the guys on bikes and the good old black and whites that are out and about. Now the new cars are the 6 cylinder dodge chargers in the regular colors. How confusing for the naughty drivers and want to be criminals out there. There are no more make-up sessions in the car or cell phone calls. As for the criminals, forget about it. If some teenybopper decides to steal a couple of earrings at the mall, it is all over, not only while she be on surveillance at the mall, she will have about a dozen other pictures taken before she leaves the mall.  Maybe crimes should only be committed by the big guys can afford the great defense lawyers along with the cartels with all the extra money to blow.

    The bottom line is that people had better be squeaky clean and obey the laws, after all, the eyes on upon them! By the way, just remember, the police are able to track a person down to about a five foot distance from the location thanks to the wonderful cell phone. Turning the phone off is not an option either, after all, yes it is possible to remote access a phone, turn it on and listen to every little last part of a conversation that the person is having. Wow, so much for privacy! This may work on the criminals but what about the everyday honest person who just wants to be normal and have a moment alone without being watched? Let’s face it, those days are long gone!

Copyright JH 2011

1 Comment

  1. Joseph Ferrara Joseph Ferrara
    October 12, 2011    

    “The bottom line is that people had better be squeaky clean and obey the laws, after all, the eyes on upon them!”

    Are you serious? i hope this is sarcasm. Sounds like a priest presenting the pope’s bull and emphasizing the importance of obedience to the law.

    Here in the United States of America, we are sovereign souls blessed with the liberty of sovereign citizenship. You are the law and you have the authority, right, privilege and duty to disobey any law that is unjust and in violation of our social contract: liberty and justice for all.

    The first principle of American political science is self-governance, which begins with the Self. One intention of the Constitution is to prevent government interference.

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