Big Brother now turns CCTV Cams into One Giant Network

By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director and Joe Cadillic, MassPrivetal Blog

Joe recently wrote a blog on India’s vast CCTV network called Anveshak (Hindi word for investigator). He says that researchers at the Indian Institute of Science have figured out how to use this vast big brother net to target a specific vehicle or person. First reported on Venture Beat.com, Anveshak can create a ‘spotlight’ on any tracked subject and can follow him or her anywhere, even anticipating spotty coverage. Researchers claim there are several reasons this new CCTV cam network is so significant.

The first is the more obvious reason for fighting crime by following suspects wherever they might roam. Using the network as part of a smart city is also important, from automated rerouting of ambulances and other first responders to other traffic issues via computer.

Probably the most lucrative reason is the actual build of large-scale computer vision systems for business. Utilizing a camera network like Anveshak, businesses can check out employee performance in factories, mass retail, and other large concerns. They can also use the network to spy on customers. Cities and businesses can adopt the network capabilities to use cloud, edge, and fog computing. Many multi-camera analysis platforms are built for specific hardware and software configurations. Anveshak users will be able to use the platform for customization by reusing algorithms.

The bigger question I have for Joe is when will the Anveshak network reach American shores?

That is a hard question to answer.

As soon as Anveshak becomes available on the World Wide Web, I would expect police departments across the globe to begin using it by the end of this year to surveil the public.

How is Anveshak different from police Fusion Centers?

Anveshak is a tool Fusion Centers can use to “spotlight” any person[s] of interest for any reason, and no one would be the wiser.

Is a network like this inevitable even if cities have already decided to limit surveillance?

Most of the police reform bills that I have seen tend to try and limit police use of facial recognition. Since Anveshak does not specifically use facial recognition, I do not see how anyone can stop police departments from using it to “spotlight” and track innocent people.

Once Anveshak is tied into police CCTV cameras or license plate readers, that is where this program becomes frightening.

Credit: Cory Doctorow

If private businesses begin using a surveillance network like Anveshak to spy on employees and customers, is there anything that officials or even regular citizens do to defeat such a change in the big brother sphere?

As I mentioned above, once Anveshak is tied into private CCTV camera networks, there will be no place left for ANYONE to hide. Cam-share programs will allow police to ID and track a person[s] as they move about a store or business in real-time or give them the option to go back in time and track their movements.

Imagine police department’s being able to use Anveshak to track a person[s] whereabouts over the course of a month, six months, or a year without a warrant?  Knowing exactly where a person[s] was and knowing what they did while inside a store is horrifying.

Anveshak could be used to let police know what someone purchased or what type of prescription drugs they were prescribed. Anveshak will have the effect of creating a public surveillance nightmare for freedom-loving people everywhere.

Credit: Ianaré Sévi

Here are some additional resources from the NMA on street surveillance:

Here are some resources from Joe’s MassPrivetal Blog:

Please give us your thoughts on this new surveillance network by commenting below or on the NMA Facebook Page.

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