Surveillance seems to be everywhere… in our streets, our shops and malls and even in our home. But just how prevalent is it and are Google, Amazon and Apple really recording every thing you say?
Stopped at traffic lights? Look around. Paying for fuel? Smile… you’re on candid camera. In your dentist’s waiting room? Yep, there too.
Big Brother’s two-edged sword
Surveillance is a two-edged sword. Sure we want to be safe. But what happens when things get a little too ‘safe’ for comfort?
For example, you may have read that there is surveillance software – aided by artificial intelligence (AI), that is capable of identifying you by the way you walk – even if you fake a limp! It’s real and it’s being used now.
But just how ubiquitous is Big Brother?
Let’s start with our cities. I’ll bet you think that China is the villain (or hero) in this space. Wrong.
Chennai and Hyderabad – both Indian cities, have, by far, the highest densities of surveillance cameras with 657 and 480 cameras per square kilometre respectively.
Then comes the first Chinese city, Harbin (411), followed closely by London, UK at 399 cameras per square kilometre!
Los Angeles? A mere 17.42 cameras per square kilometre. Sydney? Just 4.85.
In fact, compared to a city like Beijing, most of us have little to worry about:
You can use the above app to compare any two cities before you plan your next heist or tryst 🙂
You can check out the camera density of your city here:
The reality is that cameras (and the software behind them) are getting better and cheaper by the day. Images are high definition and some of these cameras can ‘see’ considerable distances.
A billion ‘eyes’
The use of surveillance cameras is growing almost exponentially. In fact, it’s currently projected that there will be more than one billion in use by the end of this year (2021). That includes installations in homes, in workplaces, in shops and malls and in public areas such as streets and parks.
Home security or surveillance?
Have you got security cameras in or around your home? What about Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. Then you may be getting more than you think you paid for.
While all three tech companies say that they ‘anonymize’ data, they are listening. They use your questions, requests and, occasionally, your conversations to feed their AI software to ‘better respond to your needs’.
The good news is that you can opt out. Unfortunately, that’s not a one click process. Regulators are now (thankfully) questioning whether you should have to opt-in rather than the default assumption that you don’t mind the intrusion!
And those security cameras? Are they connected to the internet? Of course they are.
Scare yourself… do a search on Amazon Ring hacks.
But it’s not just AMZ. There have been many instances of domestic security devices being hacked or misused. Hidden cameras have been found in hotel rooms, rental homes and Air B&B accommodation.
It seems ‘Big Brother’ has quite a few siblings!
Should you have ‘in-home’ security cameras?
Tough decision. The Ring hacks I mentioned above have been very quickly addressed by Amazon. Other reputable manufacturers also respond quickly. But that key word is ‘reputable’. Don’t expect to get a lot of support from some small company in the backlots of China.
Quality security cameras definitely cost a little more but you do get what you pay for. Amazon has a reputation they guard with a vengeance. A small ‘component assembler’ on Wish or AliExpress has nothing to lose.
Me? I have a camera at my driveway entry but I won’t put one inside. I do have Google Assistant both in the house and on my phone but I have chosen to opt-out of data collection.
You? What’s your position? Do you feel comforted knowing ‘Big Brother’ is there or do you feel it’s getting a bit too ‘1984’ for comfort?