More Omniveillance Predictions Come True

February 17th, 2010

When I first wrote Omniveillance in the Summer following my 1L year, many people told me that it was totally unrealistic. The things I predicted would never happen. In fact, if you take note of who published it, you should realize that the Law Review I served on decided not to accept it. With that background, I relish whenever a prediction I made back in 2007 comes true. Here are a couple more.

While I didn’t quite get the concept of augmented reality at the time, largely because it wasn’t a term, but I understood the ability of Web 2.0 to overlay historical events at a specific location, creating somewhat of a time machine. I wrote:

[Omniveillance] provides the users of this system with omniscience to know everything happening in a specific location at a specific time. Furthermore, this information will be indefinitely retained, and easily accessible. When future versions of this technology is properly implemented, it will be possible to enter a time, date, and location, and witness what happened at that moment as if you were there. It is a virtual
time machine.

Recently, Google did just that. Kinda. They overlayed aerial images of World War II Destruction with today’s Google Earth. It is pretty cool. You can enter in a location in Europe, and see what that region looked like after it was Blitzed during the war. But you can see how this augmented reality approach can be used to create a virtual time machine, just as a I described. The technology exists. The only thing lacking is the data.

Also, take a look at As TechCrunch describes:

Please Rob Me is a stream of updates from various location-based networks (though right now all I’m seeing is Foursquare) that shows when users check-in somewhere that is not their home. The idea, of course, is that if they’re not home, you can go rob them.
The site automatically scans Twitter feeds to find location check-ins that are being tweeted out. It then shows them in this stream, and also pings the person on Twitter with a message like: Hi @NAME, did you know the whole world can see your location through Twitter?

I made a very similar observation about the power of Omniveillance, or broadly understood as Web 2.0 technologies, in my article:

A potential criminal may easily case houses or understand the schedules of potential victims in planning the commission of a crime.207 . . . This predatory behavior becomes as facile as clicking around the Internet. Cyber-stalking can take on a whole new meaning

While I didn’t know of Twitter (largely because it hadn’t hit mainstream yet), I knew that producing so much information about people’s intimate behavior and location on the Internet could easily be exploited by those with nefarious ends. It makes cyber-stalking a piece of cake.