Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tin foil hat alert: They're watching you...

William Illsey Atkinson writes in The Globe and Mail:

On the fourth anniversary of 9/11, the world not only recalls the carnage, it also finds itself face to face with the social and technological changes that the terrorist attacks began. The biggest of these -- arguably more important than any military issue -- is surveillance. Whoever you are, wherever you are, at any given moment some friend or foe may be watching you. That's today's reality.

We take some surveillance for granted. Airplanes and satellites with remote-sensing equipment constantly fly over Canada to monitor pollutants and illegal fishing, enforce Arctic sovereignty and inspect our territory for the movement of illegal goods.

Yet the main target of Big Brother is not acreage, but people. Personal surveillance is of two kinds, public and private. Public surveillance covers people and organizations that the state deems to be a real or potential danger. Private surveillance covers threats that an individual fears.

Although public surveillance has many times the scope of private surveillance, the two realms' technologies constantly overlap: The same devices may entrap the frisky husband and the errant embassy official.


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