Surveillance, people and power | Express IT: Surveillance, people and power

martes, 11 de febrero de 2014

Surveillance, people and power

I just twitted about "The Day We Fight Back" a movement sponsored for some organizations like the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among other tech-related bodies and associations. Put aside the time (a decade at least) being known for my support to the free software and also open source software, which prompted me to start typing this post is the kind of job I'm doing nowadays.

Going straight to the point, directly under my control are around 10 cameras installed abroad the city where I currently live. This is not the first time I do security related development. And for the most part (thinking as an ex-volunteer firefighter) I really think that the current project which involves more than cameras is really helpful for the people in this city. Let's temporarily forget the goal of the project.

I think about the cameras as the eyes of first response corps, certainly these days (almost) everyone carries a mobile phone capable of doing free calls to the emergency number, a big chunk of this mobile users own a so called smart-phone capable not only of making the emergency call, but also most of these gadgets are equipped with sensors and in some cases software capable of sending geo-location data and media to the emergency control centres. What this devices can't provide neither replace is the training of first responders teams and dispatch operators.

So, the right mix of technology with trained and highly ethic people in charge of the cameras I was talking about in the first place, make the surveillance projects worth. The problem arises from an education and economics background. I can sleep fine every night, since I do a professional and transparent (to maximum allowed extent) work, I was grown educated by certain ethics and in a relatively comfortable environment. Speaking of my current work, all code I've written is being published with some sort of free or open source licence, so it can be openly audited. But what about the high rank officers, middle ground operators and other people with access to the technology and who are able to exploit it for their own purposes?

Technically, I or any person with the right skill set can create things that can be twisted into evil tools by other kind of skilled people, how do you control the later?

I could stop doing what I do, but some one else will do it anyways. The key is education which is the easiest part, since the other part, the economics are a bit more complicated to even think about, but easily controlled by education means though.