Eric A. Blair might feel smugly satisfied to learn that his book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is of literary significance to a whole new generation now that the FBI plans to launch a nationwide $1 billion project designed to identify "people of interest."
Blair, who wrote as George Orwell, would already be amazed by how they’re observing you now through Internet files, electronically transmitted photos and data sharing. “They” have cameras watching, miniscule computer chips tracking and recording and drones observing and transmitting data piloted by agents from offices connected to orbiting satellites.
However, we are in the era of surveillance infancy, according to New Science.
The latest project is called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program, a high-tech endeavor utilizing biometric data including DNA analysis, iris scans and voice identification to track criminals. Obviously, such devices have the ability to track down you, too, should a system operator be interested, not that that would ever happen - since that would be an invasion of privacy offense.
FBI agents also plan to take NGI on the road where public cameras are in operation and pluck faces from crowds and randomly juxtapose them to a national repository of images. While this may not be as intimidating as the government peering out at your family through a television screen, it hits close to home.
The use and scope of NGI, which kicked off a pilot program in February, is personal and boundless, with glaring implications for privacy rights. On the other hand, who could believe thousands of faceless bureaucratic FBI Intel workers would dare track anyone but terrorists and the most hardened criminals?
Oh, I see. I suppose you have a point. But if you're thinking of fleeing to Europe to regain your privacy, governments there are already using similar systems, randomly tracking people for future reference ("Eastwooding").
Regardless of race, politics, gender or ideology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has already thrown a red flag, voicing concerns of innocent civilians being mixed up or included in the database.
Of course the FBI responds that the NGI program complies with the U.S. Privacy Act.
So, rest assured, citizens, but do stay in compliance.
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