It’s that time again. We’re on the move — feasting, sharing, shopping, giving thanks. And we are being tracked every step of the way. So here’s a quick guide to the state of the unblinking electronic eye, 2014 Holiday Edition.
Flying home? Every passenger on every flight is recorded on digital manifests. Every plane is tracked. And even before you board, airports are among the most intensively surveilled public spaces, full of cameras and other monitoring devices. Some airports even use tiny sensors hidden in lighting fixtures that, according to the New York Times, can spot long lines, read license plates and report “suspicious activity” to authorities.
Taking the train? All aboard for monitoring. Ticket transactions happen with computers – or online – typically with credit cards, making it easy to follow any passenger or all of them. Train stations, meanwhile, are nearly as camera-laden as airports.
Uber or Lyft? Smartphone-based car services collect massive amounts of precise data, including your name, cell number, starting point, ending point, pickup time, drop-off time and exact route. Plus, that same data is collected on every other rider as well, making it easy for those with access to the databases to analyze who is seeing whom, when, where and, with a bit of imagination, why.
Driving yourself? The web of surveillance is a bit looser here, but there arecountless license plates readers on our highways, both fixed and mounted on government vehicles. Databases collect such information for easy sharing. Those handy electronic toll payment systems, such as EZ Pass, are tracking you too. Highway rest areas are heavy on the video monitoring. And likely coming soon: facial recognition systems.