IoT and the ever growing question of my personal privacy…

As a devoted fan of Peter Sellers I loved his Pink Panther movies. However, the one movie of his that always comes to mind for me is Dr. Strangelove. The reason in part for that is the sheer talent of the actors in the movie. It is an amazing story of both corruption and ultimately comedy. It is, as some comedies are a very dark comedy. One of the things that interests me about the movie is the plot within the plot, and the number of characters played by Peter Sellers.

The concept of the plot within the plot is my focus for today’s Internet of Things blog. I saw a demonstration yesterday (August 25th 2016) of an interest array of sensors. Combining a number of sensors to increase data captured while at the same time reduce the cost of capturing that data. A single array with sensors that cover a number of interesting systems.

Within the concept of data collected is the need for the data collected. What data do we urgently need to capture and then the other question raised over what area do we need to capture it. The examples I would use have to do with two things. The first traffic. We’ve talked about that before here on my blog. The capture of information about traffic flow is something cities do now. The other side of this remains a concern of mine. Who owns my image?

Estimates today put between 20,000 and up to as high as 40,000 or more video cameras deployed in New York City and its suburbs. The average person commuting from the ‘burbs into the city will encounter upwards to 200 cameras every day. Some of that is good. You would think that the more cameras there are the less crime there is. That isn’t always true. But it would reduce the number of places crimes of opportunity could occur.

When I was first in IT we talked about the Wide Area Network (WAN) philosophy. There were two camps the WAN is always up, or the WAN is always down. You built your systems based on the camp you were in (off-line able if the WAN is always down, On-line if the WAN is always up). The same now is true for criminals. You either assume the video camera is a decoration (and doesn’t work or transmit) or the camera is always on and you don’t care.

But the other side of that is the privacy issue. I’ve talked about this before the ownership issue of my image. While I understand the need for security cameras I do not accept that I don’t own my image if I commit no crime. As more and more arrays are deployed with sensors to capture data about not only the atmosphere and weather, but the traffic flow and congestion points, the number of cameras taking my picture is going to climb. At some point to make it 20 miles from my house in Maryland to Washington DC I may encounter 400 or 500 cameras. That is 400 or 500 pictures of me that I was:

1. Unaware were being taken

2. Not sure of how long they are kept

Again I do not intend to commit crimes on my way to work. I accept if I speed in an area with a speed camera that I deserve the letter from the State of Virginia or the state of Maryland (or even the District of Columbia if I wander across the river too fast). In that case I have committed a crime. Yes, a misdemeanor but the entities in question have right to keep the picture of me, or me and the license plate of my car.

I do not and will not accept keeping my picture when I don’t speed or turn right on red (red light cameras remain stupid. That is something that needs to be fixed. If it is legal to turn right on red, and I stop look both ways there is not traffic and I proceed I shouldn’t get a letter in the mail).

It is an argument of personal privacy that needs to be had now. No camera should be deployed without a privacy statement. Those statements should be published by the company, city, regional or national government entity. Organizations with cameras in front should also. Publishing the privacy rules, they adhere to is critical.

1. We keep all video for x time period.

2. We do, with a warrant, release all video to the police

3. We do, without a warrant releases all video to the police

We need these! It is after all my image! How can I have a virtual wall around me, Please!


No, that picture is not me.