Mass Surveillance Technologies: Do They Violate Human Rights

Mass Surveillance Technologies: Do They Violate Human Rights

“Who’s watching you?” This is the iconic tagline of the famous show Big Brother. This term, ‘Big Brother’ is synonymous with the government. With it, it is also supposed to mean that the government keeps a surveillance of its citizens. In a show wherein all its contestants are always under watch this term is probably the most apt. From the time that they enter the house they are attached with types of surveillance technology gadgets such as microphones and cameras focused on them 24/7. This keeps a track of their words and behavior in front of a live TV audience and the internet viewers.

So how does this relate to you? It’s because Big Brother is really watching YOU! In his novel, ‘1984’, George Orwell talked about a futuristic society where in this term was coined. In today’s day and age, this piece of sci-fi seems to become our future reality.

The Technologies Involved:

Mentioned below are the types of Surveillance Technology gadgets that are easily available online and violate our privacy.

Parabolic Microphone: A parabolic microphone is such an instrument that allows people to listen in to conversations from a great distance away. What is astonishing is that fact that it captures sounds even through a closed building window. It does so with the use of a reflector that is connected to a receiver. The same captures all sound waves in an antenna that is like a mini satellite disk. To ensure its accuracy, a laser device that scans the direction is an integral part of the microphone. It also captures the vibration of sounds from inside a building and then transfers the same vibration into audible sound. As with all technologies, a generic version of this privacy cancelling microphone is available on Amazon. Needless to add, the high-end version of the same must be in use by the governments. Probably mounted on top their cars as it crosses our streets capturing sounds.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Beacon Technology

Night Vision CCTVs: With cameras at every street light and corner, at every porch and every hood of the car, it is near impossible of going from point A to point B without having one’s face captured on the camera. To make matters worse, with the advent of Night Vision, it has become very easy for these same cameras to capture individuals on screen and video in the night time or in low light. A tracking of anyone’s movement in the name of security feels fake and flimsy. Many a times the cameras are even camouflaged as light bulbs. It too is easily available on Amazon.

License Plate Recognition (LPR) Technology: Just when you think you have left the hustle and the bustle of the city behind and all that is ahead of you are open roads, remember that here too technology has managed to leave its footprint. The way it works is very simple. License plate recognition involves the capturing of photographic video or images of license plates. They are then processed by a series of algorithms that are fed in the main server, that can read and capture the alpha numeric license plate that is driving away on a high speed. The conversion of captured license plate from images into a text entry is a type of surveillance technology that is now easily possible. Needless to say, it too is available on Amazon.

Unique Identification Number/Social Service Number: In order to create a ‘red tape free’ (Meaning free of bureaucrats) governance, many countries have given their citizens unique identification numbers or social security numbers (Commonly known as Aadhar Card in India or SS number in the States) These cards and numbers are a must for all citizens as many of the basic services can only be availed when they are presented. Unsurprisingly, without presenting them, one cannot purchase any electronics or even get their rightful ration. This is a type of surveillance technology through which the government can keep an eye on one’s purchases, financial history and transactions and in some sectors even the amount of ration.

Also Read: Will Technology Help Us Mitigate Fake News Problem?

A Necessary Evil or a Curse?

The above mentioned are just a few examples in the way governments manage to keep an eye on us. However, with further growth and adoption of Blockchain technology to create ‘smart cities’, the citizen’s digital identity too is being tracked. So where does that leave us? Is the price of ensuring our safety and security higher than our human right to privacy? Can there be no middle ground where in one can easily put their foot down and demand that we increase the infrastructure of defenses around the city rather than entrapping its citizens?

Here are the few steps that one can take to try and ensure some respite from the constant surveillance on is subjected to.

1) Research the Source
: Before entering any personal data such as name, date of birth, address, onto any portal, make sure that one thoroughly researches its source. Many a times, malware and ransomware enter your system camouflaged as a normal email forward from a fandom site or a simply from your local bank. It may be fun to know which Hogwarts house one can be a part off, or what deals you can avail, but not at the cost of compromising precious data!

2) Isolate Data:
Do not share on social media or random third-party apps, your office name, address, your IP address or even your personal details. It is the first place where in the government or any agency can compromise the security protocols that have been placed and access your data.

3) Delete Mainstream Social Media:
With the advent of Blockchain technology, one can substitute mainstream social media portals for decentralized social media pages. This shall result in manners in which one can protect their identity and ensure data safety and security.

There you have it folks. To avoid the omnipresent watchful eye of big brother forever catching you, it is best to unplug and move into the hills. As that is not an option and types of surveillance technology shall continue to evolve, we suggest that you take precautions mentioned above. These steps can ensure that one does not compromise one’s digital identity nor their data.

A traveler who has eaten with Bedouins, gotten lost in mist, and walked a kilometer to get net connection. When not writing, Nisha reads tech magazines to shampoo bottle labels

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