Thursday, May 24, 2018 by Jayson Veley
It’s time for Americans to stop what they’re doing, have a look around, and ask themselves the following question: Are we still living in the United States of America, or are we living in some kind of science fiction novel where the government knows more about us than we’d like them to know? At times, the difference between the two isn’t immediately obvious.
Take Amazon, for example, which has recently decided to market a powerful face recognition tool called “Rekognition” to police. This technology would help law enforcement identify and track individuals at their convenience, even if those individuals are not involved in crimes. As you probably can imagine, this has many constitutionalists and privacy advocates extremely concerned.
Even though Rekognition officially launched in late 2016, it’s still unclear as to how many law enforcement agencies have actually purchased the tool and are using it on the job. Since then, Amazon has added specific features that allow Rekognition to identify individuals in videos and follow their movements almost instantaneously.
Earlier this month, a number of privacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union urged Amazon to stop selling this face recognition technology to government agencies, arguing that they could use Rekognition to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.” These privacy advocates also noted that such technology could have an even harsher impact on minorities, illegal immigrants or political protesters, which they claim are already arrested at disproportionate rates.
“People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government,” the groups wrote on Tuesday in an official letter to Amazon. “Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom.” (Related: Here is a list of all the ways in which the federal government is spying on you.)
While it goes without saying that our police and law enforcement agencies should be equipped with the tools they need to better serve our communities, there is a very fine line between technology that keeps us safe and technology that infringes upon our rights. As it stands right now, surveillance technology seems to be going to the extreme, and as a result, personal information is being collected without our knowledge or consent.
Back in January, the Waking Times reported on new technology being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is capable of accurately reading a person’s concealed emotions from a distance. That means that regardless of whether you feel happy, sad or angry, and regardless of how well you are trying to conceal it, this new device will be able to see through even the best poker face and read you like a book. (Related: Yes, your smart TV is really spying on you and collecting your personal information.)
According to the researchers, their device, which is officially called the “EQ-Radio,” is accurate 87 percent of the time at detecting individuals’ emotions, and what’s even more frightening is that it does not even need to be directly linked to a person’s pulse and body to operate. Rather, the EQ-Radio works by sending WiFi signals that bounce off a person to read things like their heart rates and other relevant information that helps it to determine how the person is feeling.
For obvious reasons, and like the Rekognition device, there is a lot of potential for abuse through the use of EQ-Radio. Companies could set them up outside of their shops, for example, in order to gather information on how customers feel both entering and exiting their store. If we’ve reached a point in our nation’s history where even our emotions are no longer private, then can we really continue calling ourselves a constitutional republic?