In the first 2 miles of my commute every morning there are 3 speed cameras, all strategically placed to achieve the highest amount of revenue for the District of Columbia. After receiving $600 in speeding tickets in the past month it got me wondering, how much would it cost using today’s technology to implement an Orwellian style surveillance system. With GPS receivers at $30/each, HD video cameras at $35/each and RFID tags at $10/each, cell phone tracking and facial recognition software, it is conceivable to me that for a mere $25 billion dollars (less than what is spent on the War on Drugs), the US govt could monitor and track the movements of every man, woman and child in America. With the constant and aggressive dismantling of the Fourth Amendment in the name of “security”, why is it so implausible to think that a few “concerned” politicians couldn’t make a case for national ID cards embedded with RFID and GPS tracking on every vehicle?
Of course I don’t think the American public even with the very real threats of terrorism and issues with illegal immigration would subject themselves to such abuses of their privacy but unlike the past, technology has actually made the monitoring of millions of people possible at a relatively affordable cost. What I suspect will happen is that much of the surveillance will get implemented incrementally with convenient excuses to justify each step such as cell phone tracking for 911 calls, GPS tracking for stolen cars, and facial recognition to locate fathers behind on child support. Over time we will be like the frog who hasn’t realized they are in boiling water because it happened so gradually. Luckily though, I am not aware of anyone who has developed criminal prediction techniques likes those in the Minority Report!