Hidden provisions in the immigration bill would turn video cameras into a network that can monitor specific people through a national data base of the digital images of Americans, and what some are doing about it.
The attacks on our privacy is growing rapidly. The NSA revelations and the coordinated attack on nonviolent protests are waking people up. Now, CNN reports, the immigration law can turn the web of video surveillance into a tool to monitor the movements of individuals.
CNN is reporting that the immigration bill being considered in the senate contains provisions that require a digital ID in order to get a job. Your digital ID (a driver’s license or passport with digital image of your face) needs to match up with Homeland Security’s digital ID on file. This is essentially a national data base for all Americans, not just immigrants. This means all those cameras watching us on the surveillance camera network, CCTV (the biggest TV network in the country), will be able to use facial recognition technology to monitor the movements of individuals.
People are organizing to respond to this encroachment. The project, Documenting Dystopia, Big Brother is Watching and So are We, has a challenging goal: to chart the surveillance cameras throughout the US and world. They have already documented 2500 cameras in four countries. They began when news of the TrapWire system was announced in the summer of 2012. See: WIKILEAKS: Surveillance Cameras Around The Country Are Being Used In A Huge Spy Network, and Unravelling TrapWire: The CIA-Connected Global Suspicious Activity Surveillance System.
Since August 11, 2012 they have been “have been hard at work organizing a database, and manually handling submissions of different formats, and educating ourselves in the technical areas needed to maintain a database of this magnitude.” They are crowd sourcing their fundraising at Indiegogo. Here is their video:
With the recent release of NSA documents by Edward Snowden demonstrating the NSA’s massive, broad-based Internet spying and collection of phone records that will include date from every American and many people abroad, people are beginning to recognize the loss of privacy. The release of these documents came with warnings from reporter Glenn Greenwald, as well as some public officials, that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
And, the announcements of widespread surveillance come after the experience of the Occupy Movement, which was under aggressive surveillance by the FBI, Homeland Security, local police and, no doubt, the NSA dragnet that covers all Americans. See Government Surveillance of Occupy Movement, Dissent or Terror, Special Report by Center for Media and Democracy and DBA Press. We should understand that this network of spying is intended not to stop terrorists, of which there are few, but to monitor Americans, especially those that exercise their constitutional rights to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and the right to redress grievances. This is an attack on democracy.
The site, in addition to collecting date on the location of video surveillance cameras, is also a forum for discussion of the issue. This comment from Chicago, makes a point that is not limited to Chicago or Washington, DC:
I can say with certainty that Chicago is the most watched city in the US and also that it is the most corrupt. Therefore, it is the corrupt who are watching. That just creeps me out beyond any ability to cope. However, WA DC is also heavily watched and I can also say with certainty that it is like a prison city, which is what the people who live there say about it. The people of both Chicago and DC will tell you their place is the most corrupt place in the country. Therefore, the huge spy apparatus is being used by, of, and for the corrupt- not the people. I think the masses need to be made aware of the levels of corruption to which I speak here for these places in particular for the purpose of thwarting such apparatus in their own cities. Who watches the watchers?