I remember reading George Orwell’s “1984” (around 1975 or so), and I thought “this guy is paranoid-no way this will ever happen”.
I was wrong.
While there is no Big Brother, there is a Big Data. And Big Data can record my location, my spending habits, my work habits, my driving habits, and my cholesterol.
Let me correct myself- I said “they can record”. I meant “they already do record”. My location, spending habits, work habits, driving habits and cholesterol are all part of someone else’s electronic record.
There was an item in the news last week about a professional football player who was recorded doing something really bad on video. It isn’t clear what he did, but it was described in the news as “career ending”. Now someone who has the video is trying to sell it to websites, and trying to some money off of the scandal.
Think about the changes in technology and society in the last 20 years that have made that last paragraph possible. There are cameras all over the place that constantly record. It happens in airports, department stores, office buildings and gas stations. If you left your home today, your image is on a video someplace.
“Dash-cams” and “body-cams” are becoming more popular. Dash-cam video clips of car accidents are very popular in Russia, and police agencies in the U.S. are using dash-cams and body-cams more often now.
My cell phone allows me to take video, photos and audio recordings. It also creates a record of every call that I make, every text that I send, and my current location. In order for me to use the mapping technology in my phone, my phone has to know exactly where I am.
Every email I’ve ever sent is recorded someplace.
Every time I swipe my credit card, the purchase amount, location and item is recorded.
Every time I swipe my ID badge in or out of my office building, I create a record.
When I drive onto or off of a toll road, my EZ Pass reader records that. I just read that EZ Pass is planning on fining drivers who drive too quickly through toll booth areas. The technology exists to allow them to fine drivers who drive too quickly on any toll road.
Every time I swipe my passport at a border, that is recorded. I’ve crossed borders about 150 times.
Every time I interact with healthcare providers, I create health records. Try obtaining life insurance, and you will discover how easy it is for someone else to retrieve information on every doctor you’ve visited, every prescription you’ve ordered, and every payment an insurance company made for you.
There is a very nice satellite photo of my home on Google Earth, and on ZIllow, too. I can even tell when the photo was taken, based on whether the swing set is still in the back yard, and where my grill is.
There are implantable chips, and they are inexpensive and easy to implant in people. Some people already have them (although not too many). My dog has one. My time might be coming soon- some companies and healthcare systems are starting to request them.
Have you ever watched an action/adventure movie, where the good guy is trying to hide from the bad guys? The “hiding” thing happens in the Bourne trilogy, and the Mission Impossible series, and Bond movies.
It isn’t so easy to hide in this time of technology.
In the movies I mentioned above, the good guy tries to go “off the grid”. In order to do that, he has to turn off his phone, use a stolen car (without any satellite technology installed), avoid using credit cards, avoid using his passport, not go through a toll booth, and avoid cameras.
That is difficult to do.
Usually in 10 minutes of “movie time”, the star is located. If the movie has a big budget, he is located by satellite, and the bad guys start tracking him down, leading up to an action-packed finish.
In the most recent Bourne movie, the star had to carve an implantable chip out of his arm, in order to avoid the bad guys who were tracking him down. That looked painful.
As you can tell, I watch a lot of bad movies on airplanes.
It’s not just the good guys who try to hide. The bad guys try to hide, too.
Recently, a police officer was killed near here, and the alleged killer tried to go “off the grid”. He had some survivalist training, and he lasted about two months in the woods before he was located.
It’s difficult to hide anymore.
Just ask Osama bin Laden.