Built-In "Big Brother" Capabilities.
Devices Capable Of Transmitting Information And/Or Location.
Are We being Monitored By Our Technology?
Sometimes I cannot help thinking that some of my daily use electronic gadgets could be used for monitoring purposes. Have you ever looked online for a store on your cell phone and a pop up appears asking of the website can use your current location to help you find the nearest store location? Sure it is helpful at times, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area, but why does JCPenny's need a tracking program on its website? Is the website tracking information monitored and who has access to the tracking data?
My wife bought me an X-Box 360 gaming console for my birthday last year. One of the accessories included with the X-Box 360 system is the Kinect device. The Kinect device allows players to play various video games without the use of a controller. The Kinect device has a color VGA camera, an infrared projector and a monochrome CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor, these electronic components work together to "see" the room in 3-D regardless of the lighting conditions. This device also has a four microphone array that can isolate the voices of the players from other noises in the room. My X-box is also capable of connecting to X-Box Live an online Internet gaming system. X-Box Live is a monitored system which it is capable of recording data from messages sent within the system and voice data such as communication head sets used by players to communicate with each other when playing team games within X-Box Live. Microsoft has indicated that it monitors the system for consumer protection and for gaming issue resolution. One cannot help but to think about the possibility of the Kinect device and others like it being capable of being used for monitoring purposes.
I am not buying into the conspiracy theory idea that "Big Brother" is watching me, but the Kinect device attached to my X-Box could possibly be used to monitor the activity inside my home without my knowledge. Of course there would have to be a couple of things that I would have to do first. I would have to connect my X-Box to the Internet via an Ethernet connection or a wireless router. Since I use a cellular device for an Internet connection, my X-Box cannot connect to the Internet as far as I know. There is a possibility that the X-Box could connect to any wireless signal for the sole purpose of information gathering, but I don't think it works that way. But if one were to think about it long and hard, one could speculate that a Kinect device or one similar to it could be used for surveillance purposes. It is a perfect device for the job, it can record images and sound within a home and transmit the data it collects to an outside source. Imagine the information that could be gathered from a device that millions of people own. Police could use information gathered to catch thieves, drug dealers, prove spousal or child abuse, and other crimes that are hard to prove due to lack of evidence. The FBI could use it to catch terrorist both foreign and domestic.
Americans use electronic devices everyday that can be used for information collection and tracking purposes. Modern cell phones all have tracking capability, you can turn off location services manually and be okay as long as you don't call 911, or so they say. When 911 is dialed, your phone automatically goes into locating mode which cannot be turned off unless the 911 call is terminated. If your phone has GPS capability you can be tracked by cellular tower signal transmisions or by satellite positioning, my phone has both. My cellphone is also Internet capable which means that not only can I be tracked by using the Internet, but any data I send or receive can be monitored as well.
I also own two iPod touch devices and an iPad, all all of which are Wi-Fi capable. My iPad is cellular capable. I have the option to track my Apple devices should I lose them or if they are stolen. Many times when I access the Internet, the iPod or iPad asks me if a website can use my current location, so apparently I can be tracked with my iPod/iPad as well. In fact, my third generation iPod has a Facetime program and two cameras. It has the capacity to communicate via Internet telephone with anyone that has a camera phone with a dual camera system. I can download an application for "Facetime" service so I can communicate with other people face to face on my iPod. Imagine someone being able to not only track my movement, but have the ability gather personal information, listen to my communications, and if I use Face time, be able to see and identify people that I have communicated with.
Lets talk about our cars and the systems that we purchase with the car or add as an aftermarket purchase. My car is blue-tooth ready with a GPS and satellite radio. My wife's car has satellite radio and On-Star which activates on every time the car is started. Her car is also equipped with a GPS tracking device in case the car is stolen. My wife and I could be tracked just by driving our cars, in fact who is to say that On-Star does not have the capacity to turn on the On-Star system and record telephone calls and conversations held inside the car? Is it possible that all of the latest safety and convenience is only being offered because these new technologies make it easier to gather information and keep track of people?
I was watching the movie "Enemy Of The State" which sparked my imagination for all of the different ways I could be monitored and tracked by the technology I use on a daily basis. It also gave me the imspiration to write this Hub. So now that I have rationalized my random imaginary conspiracy theory, I don't really think this is happening, but who knows? Most companies use location technology or monitoring services to update and improve their products and services. We assume and are assured that the information gathered is not shared wth third parties. How hard do you think it would be for the Government to get a subpoena or to use a law meant to prevent acts of terrorism to access these records? Think about that the next time you talk on your cellular phone, use your iPod or iPad, drive your car, or play your next video game on your X-Box.