“Big Brother is watching you.”
That’s the famous line from George Orwell’s novel 1984, and, with the NSA spy scandals of the last few years, concern about this idea has become a bigger and bigger issue. But, now, new technology being used in Shanghai, China, is taking government surveillance to scary new levels (hat tip to here for the source). Harry Pettit writes,
A smart surveillance system that can identify criminals among a database of 2 billion faces within seconds has been revealed in China.
The system connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets.
Known as ‘Dragonfly Eye’, it has already been used in Shanghai to track down hundreds of wanted criminals, reports suggest.
Now, some people may applaud this effort to police a city of over 24 million people, but, aside from the massive privacy issues, there’s another huge problem: the legality of the laws being enforced.
Consider how many laws are on the books in the United States. The fact is that no one knows how many Federal laws there are, but we can say that there are over 20,000 Federal laws just in reference to gun ownership. Then there is the fact that, in 2007, there were over 4,450 Federal crimes, i.e. laws you could break that would bring punishment down on your head. The number has almost certainly gone way up from that time.
In fact, civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate says that you break laws every day. Wendy McElroy writes,
If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law. In his book Three Felonies a Day, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day. This toll does not count an avalanche of other laws — for example misdemeanors or civil violations such as disobeying a civil contempt order — all of which confront average people at every turn.
So, consider: if this new surveillance technology comes to the U.S., then law enforcement can bust you for something every day. Frankly, that means that whether you’re let go or put behind bars on any given day would be completely up to the discretion of the police officer or the judge handling your case. This sets up a situation ripe for abuse, ripe for bribery to become commonplace as people try to get out from under the heal of government penalties and unscrupulous people in government abuse the situation for person advantage.
Additionally, groups like Human Rights Watch are concerned that “[Dragonfly Eye] is designed to track and predict the activities of activists, dissidents and ethnic minorities, including those authorities say have extreme thoughts, among others” (source here). Keep in mind that many government officials consider preppers among those who “have extreme thoughts” because preppers want to live free and survive, none of which seem to be on government’s list of things to do for people.
At this time, we haven’t heard reports of using this technology here in the U.S., but you can bet that the NSA and other government spying organizations will be keeping an eye on this for surveillance tasks in the U.S. It’s going to hit the States, and your only way to escape it may be to either go completely off grid permanently or to leave the country.