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May 2016 Archives

The Right of Privacy. What's left of it? Part 1.

I remember when the red light cameras first came to the city of Fremont in 2000. I found the very idea of my city government setting up surveillance cameras to catch ordinary citizens for an infraction violation offensive to me and I successfully defended many people who received such tickets. To me these intrusive cameras were one more way in which government and the private sector whittled away at our privacy rights. As George Orwell in his famous novel, 1984 termed it, Big Brother was watching. In 1984, Orwell describes a society where government is watching your every move: "On each landing, opposite the lift shaft the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran."[1] Does Orwell's tale at all resemble how the private sector and government surveil us now through the use of "Big Data" and other highly sophisticated analytical methods? Well, let's read a little from 1984: