Surveillance Cameras Can Read Your Text Messages

6 May

It sounds like the claims of a paranoid schizophrenic, or a modernization of 1984, but it is reality in New Zealand, where the average person is digitally recorded about 12 times a day.  It was revealed at a privacy forum in Wellington on May 2nd that police had used these high-powered cameras to monitor The Rugby World Cup.  Superintendent Grant O’Fee expressed to the forum the reality of such capabilities when one camera operator zoomed in on a spectator’s text message, revealing their complaints about the rugby game.

“He was actually texting about the poor quality of the game of rugby. But it did occur to me that there was an issue there – had he been texting something that was of some consequence to us, there may have been privacy issues.”

He confirmed later that the level of monitoring used during the World Cup would continue for all big test matches.

The system, CCTV, now operates 11 cameras in Wellington city centre, recording 24 hours a day in many buildings including hospitals, grocery stores, and around public toilets.

“It’s quite worrying when we, by default, move to some sort of Orwellian 1984 where the state or Big Brother watches your every move. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and we don’t realise what we are giving up when we give the state the power to monitor our private lives.”

Shroff said that, although reading someone’s text messages in public could cause concern, the legitimacy of the action depended on what it was used for.

The Big Brother theme is now so prevalent in society, that this statement will most likely not shock people.  Imagine what outrage this would have ignited in the 1960s.  It’s quite a contrast to one of  the common responses to such violations of privacy repeated today, “Oh I know, it’s messed up.  Hey, wanna see my new iPhone?”  The other common response was delivered by former detective Trevor Morley, showing a very flawed and dangerous mindset in law enforcement:

The only people who need to be concerned about these advances in technology that the police are using are the people who are abusing it, or the people who are acting in an anti-social manner.”

If that isn’t unnerving enough, here are some more reasons to feel like you are being watched:

Your digital footprint

An average person is digitally recorded about a dozen times a day, and more if they use email and social media frequently.

There are 11 CCTV cameras throughout Wellington city centre, recording 24 hours a day.

Movement can be tracked through mobile phones and computers.

Work access cards can be used to track your location.

CCTV operates inside many buildings, including hospitals, supermarkets, malls, and around public toilets.

Any online search, online purchase, eftpos or credit card transaction, or smartcard used for car parking is recorded.

Social media usage is tracked and used for marketing and advertising.

Any information put online is there forever.

Some smart electricity systems track usage.

Source:  ‘Big Brother’ Fears as Cameras Zoom In On Text Messages



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