The Lights Have Eyes
Now, “smart” lights?
The NSA is tracking your movements on your smartphone.
Local law enforcement may be listening in on your calls.
Homeland Security is developing a national system to track license plates.
Now, the TSA is getting in on the action. It’s not enough for them to sift through your things and grope you or take your full-body image as you come through the gate…
Now, they want to watch you everywhere else inside the airport too…
And New Jersey, they’re already doing it.
The Newark Airport recently installed a network of 171 LED lights. The system does more than light your way through the terminal, though. This lighting system is equipped with surveillance cameras that gather data on your movements.
This spy-light network feeds the information into a database where computer software reviews the data for suspicious activity, long lines, license plate identification, and more.
It’s just one more example of dragnet data gathering on ordinary citizens. Yet another situation where government officials violate your privacy and call it “greater security…”
Today, Newark Airport…
Tomorrow, the World
Newark Airport is just the beginning. Soon, spy-lighting systems won’t be confined to airports.
Cities like Las Vegas are already considering similar systems for municipal lighting. Imagine a world where every streetlight has a surveillance camera that monitors the movements of every citizen that walks past…
What could possibly go wrong?
Newark officials promise that the data gathered will remain safe from prying eyes. And the company that makes these spy-light systems assures the public that the data is encrypted and very secure.
But, in light of some of the news headlines we’ve seen over the past year, a healthy dose of skepticism seems like a more appropriate response.
Let’s consider just a few of the potential problems with this type of surveillance system:
Encryption: A good encryption code can be almost impossible to break, even for the federal government. But in the past, we’ve seen government agencies strong-arm companies into building backdoor access points into their software. Encryption is not a guarantee against government intrusion.
Security: We’ve seen huge data breaches in the last year. Millions of people’s personal records have been compromised. In many cases, their financial data was put at risk. Simply saying that data is “secure” doesn’t make it so.
Privacy: How many privacy violations are we supposed to put up with? How much data will we allow the government to gather in the name of security? At what point do these violations start influencing the way we behave and speak?
Constant government monitoring stifles creativity and free expression, and takes away the public’s right to free speech, either directly, or by forcing us to self-censor. It reduces us all to living in a state of constant wariness.
A monitored society is not a free society. Just ask someone who lived in East Germany before the wall came down.
Intrusions are Most Likely When…
Your privacy is usually most at risk when you’re on the road. Whether it’s the TSA or common thieves, these days, there always seems to be someone watching.
So, when you travel, know the steps you can take to protect your privacy.
- Know your rights: Airport security has gotten ridiculous. Full-body image scans and SPOT interviews. Shoe removal and little baggies for your liquids. These measures have little to no effect on security, but they sure do increase your inconvenience.
You can’t avoid them all, but you can take some control of how you’re treated. For example, you can opt out of a full-body scan. If you do, you’ll get the pat down instead, but that might be alright with you. The point is, if you opt out, you can make a choice.
If you’re stopped for a SPOT interview, you don’t have to give detailed answers. If a TSA official asks you about your travel plans, answer each question with a polite “personal business,” as recommended by the ACLU.
But remember: If you’re an American citizen, you have the right to travel peacefully and freely within the country. No explanation required. Period.
- Protect your data: Thieves target travelers. Identity thieves and the everyday kind. Make sure your laptop, tablet, and smartphone are password protected before you leave home. If you use a public computer while on the road, make sure you logout of any websites you visit.
Did you know that customs agents have the right to search and copy any information on computers that are entering the country?
They can even hold your computer if they find something they don’t like. It doesn’t matter if you’re a citizen or not. So, if you leave the country, consider leaving your laptop at home.
- Monitor your bank accounts: Keep an eye out for unusual activity in your bank accounts. Check your credit card statements daily when travelling. These steps will help protect you from fraud. If you see strange activity, alert your bank right away.
P.S. – Want to do more to protect your privacy both at home and on the road? I’ve created a detailed manual to help my readers lower their profile.