Omniveillance: Forget where you parked your car? There’s a camera for that!

January 27th, 2011

From the Los Angeles Times, Servant or snoop in the parking garage?

To help absent-minded shoppers searching for ‘lost’ automobiles, Santa Monica Place installs the nation’s first camera-based ‘Find Your Car’ system. Despite a few bugs, the technology is gaining fans — but there are privacy concerns.

Anyone who has ever tramped through a dim, Escher-esque parking garage in search of a “lost” automobile might welcome an abracadabra technology that could help locate it.

But what if that magic involved an array of 24/7 surveillance cameras and was also available to police and auto repossessers? What if it could be tapped by jilted lovers, or that angry guy you accidentally cut off in traffic? Would the convenience be worth the loss of privacy?

Those are some of the questions civil libertarians and others are asking as technology capable of spying on motorists and pedestrians is converted to widespread commercial use.

Wonderful. There are some interesting privacy implications here. As Engadget points out:

While helping people find their cars is an admirable goal, the system seems rife with opportunities for abuse because the footage is privately owned — meaning the car location information could be sold to anyone, including that crazy ex-girlfriend of yours. As for us, we’d rather not exchange a walk-on part in the war to maintain our privacy for a lead role in another video cage.

The pervasiveness of cameras in public that aggregate and disseminate information is growing. Projects like the “Find Your Car” kiosk desensitize people to the risks of permanent surveillance. Omniveillance is on its way.