The Surveillance Society: One step closer?

multi-cam.jpgI’ve been fondly accused of chronic paranoia in the past, and I’m sure that’ll continue. In my defense, I spend 12 or 14 hours per day in a fictional world a lot like our own; trouble is, it’s getting more and more like our world every day. It’s a great place to read about, but you might not want to live there.

I don’t drive with an I-Pass, because the convenience it affords doesn’t outweigh its intrusion into my personal life. (Forget for a moment that we were all promised the toll-collecting would disappear when the toll roads had been paid for; those promises are too consistently broken to count.) I just don’t think my government has any business knowing where I am on every single mile of my drive.

I don’t scan my thumb to pay for my groceries electronically, even though that’s now an option at my neighborhood chain supermarket. It’s only a subtle descent from using a credit card, but the added privacy invasion is very real. Before, it could have been my wife or someone else who bought those subversive baked goods with my card, but now, they know it was me specifically, because of the fingerprint. I’m afraid to even look at the ream of Jack-specific coupons that print out with my receipt; it feels like strangers are looking in my windows.

So while I still can, I’m saying no-thanks to the helpful eyes and ears of the State and its minions. Pretty soon, though, I get the feeling they’re going to stop even pretending to ask my permission.

As you might have heard, the FBI is working on a $1,000,000,000 database plan to capture iris scans, palm prints, facial features, tattoo and scar maps, essentially anything and everything about its people-of-interest. As with all slippery slopes, we’re being asked to step onto this one because of its benefits to us; we’ll somehow be safer and more secure.

It’ll start with the criminals, of course, because who can argue with that? And how about the Homeland Security watch list? (Before you agree to that, you might want to make sure you’re not on it; 860,000 people are.) Then employees in sensitive jobs, and then people who know employees in sensitive jobs. Then before you know it, in my own little world of make-believe, it’ll be all of us.

Even if you don’t glance back over your shoulder as often as I do, you might find this article on the dangers of unbridled surveillance a rewarding read.