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Above and Right:

Above and Right: Wristbands let parents track their children via Wi-Fi triangulation. Courtesy Filip Technologies. Privacy in a Watchful World: What have you got to hide? In a world where companies and governments can, and increasingly do, track vast amounts of personal information about our habits, preferences, behavior, communications and even our thoughts, where will we draw the line? People evidently enjoy the benefits of social media and big data—Amazon suggesting “you might like”; your phone flagging the proximity of a potential date pre-vetted by your friends; monitoring systems that send alerts when an elderly parent isn’t taking medication—but sometime in the last year we seem to have crossed the “creepy line” that Google’s CEO famously warned against. Now governments are struggling to regulate the use of personal information, companies are weathering backlash for customer surveillance in-store and online, and individuals are exploring a suite of options for covering their digital tracks. As pointed out in the previous essay in this report, digital data is the one of the few resources increasing, rather than being depleted, by human activity, and plenty of companies are setting out to exploit this resource. Some of this data is generated by online activities: e-mail, use of social media, shopping and Web browsing are all fair game. Tweetmining is the practice of some companies harvesting, analyzing and selling old tweets to others that want to gauge reactions to their products and services. 32

The new Graph Search engine on Facebook makes it easier than ever for marketers, or hackers, to assemble detailed profiles of users. We’re even developing technologies that can reach through the screen to gather data on the physical you, using the monitor’s camera to track what you are looking at on the screen and how you react to advertisements. Just carrying a cell phone makes you a target. Retailers can use smartphone signals to capture serial numbers and track users’ locations. A firm hired to install bomb-proof trash bins in London prior to the Olympic Games embedded tracking technology that used phone signals to follow people through the streets. Being off-line, even sans phone, is no protection. Our world is saturated with sensors that watch you in the real world. How many video cameras do you pass in the course of a day? Video is data, and enormous amounts of information can be gleaned from a feed. Stores use facial recognition software tied to video feeds to analyze the demographic profile of shoppers—age, gender and even race—to tweak everything from what merchandise they display to what kind of music they play to appeal to their typical client at a given time of day. Some high-end stores are using facial recognition software to spot VIPss so staff can be alerted via iPad or smartphone and provided with data on the celeb’s preferences or buying history. The abilities of these systems border on telepathy, analyzing facial expressions to infer feelings and moods. One retail system specializes in deducing shoppers’ “emotional engagement” with products from video streams in-store or onscreen. The Department of Homeland Security is testing Future Attribute Screening Technology, a “pre-crime” detection program based on sensors that secretly collect video, audio, cardiovascular signals, pheromones, electrodermal activity and respiration, and applies algorithms to identify suspicious individuals (hopefully distinguishing between the elevated heart rate of a mere nervous traveler and cues denoting a true “unknown terrorist”). Museums are adapting surveillance technology to their own purposes. They are using the feed from security cameras to create safety perimeters around objects on display. Some are monitoring (and responding to) real-time tweets and location data. (See, for example, how the Tate Modern used Twitter 33

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