By Andy Markem
There is a fine (often subjective) line between privacy and security/protection.
Take the recent incident of Empire actor Jussie Smollett who staged an attack on himself and filed an alleged false statement with the police.
Police used Chicago’s extensive video surveillance network with access to more than 32,000 cameras mounted on buildings, poles, train tunnels and buses as well as cab, rideshare services, business and home security systems and doorbell cameras to identify and track down his accomplices and make their case against Smollett.
Home and business surveillance system footage have been used to solve attacks and murders, as well as hit-and-run occurrences. One of the first things law enforcement agencies (local, state, national) do in these instances is canvas the area to check for cameras and stored imagery. Often what is captured is pivotal to solving a case.
An individual’s phone can be closely pinpointed by tracking signals to specific cell towers and even to places you visit.
How often have you received a request on your phone to rate a restaurant, store, business you visited? Yeah, “they” know more than you think they know!
People can and do track, locate their iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch when they are stolen or missing. The same is possible with other services.
Is it possible to hack these cameras, cell, data networks easily by someone with modest technical skills?
Don’t think about it too much!
The vast majority of people pay little attention to keeping their OS and applications updated as well as their password and firewall protection other than saying “darn, that’s a pain in the rear.”
Lethargy and complacency are the reasons these networks – home, business, governmental – are so easy to hack so “they” can track people/things and steal valuable information.
Yes, that means Chinese, Russian, Iranian and other governments fund/run cybersquads. They have them working to penetrate the US infrastructure and the US has similar teams targeting theirs.
Each in their own way wrap their work in the cloak of protecting their country’s interests; and in a way, that’s true.
Each also works on developing cyberweapons to use against the “enemy” to cripple critical country systems – power, water, distribution, etc. Like the vast nuclear arsenals, they stand ready and can easily be (let’s say accidentally) released to cripple and perhaps even destroy an offending government.
With even less techie knowhow you can tell what a person has done, is doing, where they are at, and where they are going by accessing social media sites and following their online posts. Almost tragically, you can also track a child based on his/her parent’s written/image postings.
Is looking illegal?
No, it’s not illegal for another person or law enforcement because the data is on public display.
Law enforcement and government security organizations use the new tools to track gangsters, terrorists and people like the Coast Guard officer with a cache of weapons who was planning to attack politicians and the media.
Most sane people would let out a sigh of relief; but what if they hadn’t, then they would have been accused of “allowing” disaster to strike and would say in those instances “no harm, no foul.”
These same officials, as we have learned, do cross the line in the zeal of doing their job; and when the activity has been outed, privacy concern lawyers are quick to act.
Of course, if you think it’s bad now wait until 5G is fully deployed in say 2024. To paraphrase what Al Jolson said back in 1927 at the Warner Theatre, “You ain’t seen (he said heard) nothin’ yet.”
5G will be a game changer turning smartphones into inexpensive dumb devices at the outer edges of the network. It’s estimated that more than 50B devices around the globe will be connected to this network, exchanging information in a constant stream with so-so security, privacy.
Surgeons will be able to operate remotely; you will be able to track a package in realtime on its journey; 4K HDR movies will download to your device in minutes, if not seconds; business discussions halfway around the globe will “feel” as though the two of you are in the same room. And the truth is 5G will unleash capabilities and opportunities – good and bad – we haven’t even imagined … yet!
Ancient laws/rules like GDPR?
Relegated to the archives!
Cartoonist Walt Kelly captured the sentiment best years ago with a single Pogo frame, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
It is the world we live in today (and hopefully, tomorrow). We have to learn how to control and manage our communications and the systems effectively and in a human/humane manner because neither side is going to be the first to blink or unplug their keyboard.