Two University of Maryland professors recently announced they developed a software program called “Geneva” that can protect people from the pervasive surveillance of their online activities by repressive governments like the People’s Republic of China. This will help Chinese citizens, but it is no solution for them. China has created unprecedented surveillance networks in which cameras, facial recognition and artificial intelligence overseeing every communication and commercial transaction work together to create a startlingly clear portrait of more than 1 billion individuals in real time.
More than one writer refers to China as a “panopticon” – a technological update on the blueprint of a prison in which the guards always have line of sight on the prisoners, but the prisoners can never be sure when they are being watched. How far are we from a panopticon of our own in the United States?
Our federal government has a limitless appetite for ever more access to our information. A proposal bandied about on Capitol Hill earlier this year would report transactions in Americans’ bank accounts that cumulatively exceed $10,000. This plan would give the government warrantless and ready access regarding whomever we do business, befriend, which causes we support and aspects of our personal lives we’d rather keep to ourselves. If Congress should approve this financial snooping proposal, however, it would merely be one more step in taking away whatever privacy Americans still enjoy.
Consider: When you walk down the street, cell-site simulators, known as “stingrays,” permit the police to “spoof” your cellphone to scoop up your most personal data. At the federal level, at least 16 agencies are reported to be involved in such collections..
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