Friday, January 3, 2014

The Privacy Threats of 2014

After Edward Snowden released some of the most significant national security leaks ever, we've been fed a constant stream of sickening revelations. Snowden's message has mostly been listened to, and the year culminated with him even getting a spot on prime time TV to tell us that “a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all.”

But it's not just the NSA's unregulated carpet bombing of civil liberties that you need to worry about. While we'll apparently hear more from Snowden in the new year, a new barrage of threats to privacy are also likely to take place. These are the privacy threats of the near future.

Law enforcement surveillance

Initially funded in 2012, FirstNet emerged as a “key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.” It's a project that seeks to create a single broadband network over the entirety of the United States for use by first responders, be they paramedics, fire-fighters or law enforcement.

At the moment, there are fewer than a dozen tests of FirstNet taking place in states including California, North Carolina, New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi and New Jersey, and the project does have some positive applications. One example is that after 'tagging' a disaster victim with a small device, their vital signs can be monitored remotely from a control centre, allowing medical staff to more efficiently prioritise those who most need treatment.

A demonstration of some potential applications using FirstNet. Video via Youtube/Alcatel-Lucent
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