“The only two things protecting your privacy are the law and the transaction cost of surveillance,” Soghoian said. “Where the transaction costs of invasive surveillance have traditionally been high, Congress hasn’t felt the need to regulate. Therefore, where there is no legal framework and suddenly wholesale violation of privacy becomes cheap, the law doesn’t protect you and technology doesn’t either.”
Packard and Soghoian both expressed grave concerns over burgeoning facial recognition technology, predicting serious abuse of this technology through security cameras.
“Facial recognition is the scariest thing on the horizon in terms of technology and breach of privacy,” Soghoian said. “We could get to a point where you’d walk through the door of a business and the owner would have access to a whole dossier of information about your purchase history, credit score, etc., without your knowledge.
“We could see a number of companies in the coming years providing this service to anyone who comes to them and these photos could come from DMV databases that you cannot opt out of. Our only hope is regulation.”
Moreover, Packard said there is no limit to the number of cameras that can be installed.
“In public places, you cannot have an expectation of privacy, so an entity can put up as many cameras as they want,” Packard said.
Monday evening’s presentation was made possible by a collaboration between the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage.