Handbook of Surveillance Technologies: History & Applications, 3rd Edition
This book sets the groundwork for understanding surveillance technologies by describing contemporary devices and current legislation in their historical context. The stepping stones that led to where we are today make it easier to understand the basic ‘ingredients’ of today’s more sophisticated devices, and will help create a mental map for understanding more specialized texts on radar, sonar, video cameras, satellite imaging, and genetic profiling.
This book is suitable as a general reference and also as a foundation text for post-secondary institutions offering surveillance studies courses.
Understanding Surveillance Technologies was published as the first comprehensive, introductory overview of the field of surveillance devices. The current Handbook of Surveillance Technologies comprises 18 chapters with more than 700 photos and illustrations. It is suitable for college surveillance studies in sociology and political science, professional recruiting programs, and as a reference for beginning professionals in the fields of law enforcement, forensics, and military surveillance. It is also an indispensable reference for journalists, lawmakers, and community planners. It has been designed with a flexible, modular format so the chapters can be read in almost any order and chapters that share common topics are cross-referenced to alert the reader. We are all being surveilled. It is no longer possible to avoid cameras; DNA tests; identity chips; border crossing cameras; highway monitors; ATMs; radio-chipped goods and ID cards; and other devices that record our movements, finances, and even our health. Even now, many people are unaware of the extent to which their activities are stored in a multitude of databases, many of which are accessible on the Internet without the surveillee’s knowledge or consent. Here are examples that illustrate this unsettling trend:
Detailed information about people who have never logged onto the Net nor even used a computer is available to anyone with an Internet connection. By aggregating public information (which changes the character of that information) one can quickly search ages, occupations, former employers and former residences and, further, it is possible to acquire the names, addresses, phone numbers, ages, financial status, and occupations of a person’s relatives and neighbors, as well. This turns personal information into a commodity and provides those seeking to exploit it, the data to create a composite picture of a neighborhood’s social and economic characteristics. Similarly, social networking sites have been caught sharing personal information or opening it up to third-party commercial interests without notifying their users. This book provides a better understanding of who is collecting this information, how they are doing it, and how it is being used.
Some hospitals now routinely take DNA samples of newborn babies and the U.S. armed forces require mandatory submission of a DNA sample. This book explains the background and origins of DNA matching and possible social consequences of its use. In many instances, your DNA can reveal your gender, race, medical tendencies, and physical characteristics.
Semi-nude and nude photos of unwary victims are sold on the Internet without the knowledge or permission of the surveillee. How is this possible? This book explains how these technologies work and why bootleg images or video may not be illegal. It further describes the ethical and social consequences of these new forms of exploitation.
Gaming centers, hotels, and trade shows use magnetic access cards to keep track of their guests. In casinos they can tell how often patrons play, how much they spend, and how frequently they visit the establishment. Even universities issue student cards that double as access cards. They allow access to vending machines, copy machines, and various retail services on campus. In some instances, this information is stored in sophisticated databases. This text describes a variety of user access and property-surveillance technologies that provide travel suppliers, casinos, hotels, and retail outlets with detailed information on their patrons.
Law enforcement agencies are consolidating their forensic and criminal databases and providing Internet access to authorized personnel from any part of the country. This provides new ways to solve serial murders and catch felons who move from state to state, but it also makes a criminal less distinguishable from a law-abiding citizen because of the way databases are designed and used to store general information on law-abiding citizens. Law enforcement agencies can have good intentions and still unwittingly violate our constitutional and ethical rights. There are good ways and bad ways to structure databases so they help us distinguish between criminals and honest people, but many software programmers are unaware of how to incorporate these issues into their software design strategies. This text looks at databases that are used to fight crime and how we can take steps to support the efforts of law enforcement without turning the country into a repressive Big Brother society.
This is only a handful of the significant issues discussed in this book. There are also notes on the history and current state of intelligence-gathering in America, concerns about chemical and nuclear treaty surveillance and enforcement, and information about new technologies that make it possible to surveil space and other planets. Surveillance devices are used in every field of endeavor. From handheld magnifying glasses to sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging machines, ‘spy’ devices enable us to see beyond our basic senses in ways we wouldn’t have imagined 200 or even 50 years ago. This book is a fascinating journey through technology and provides significant food for thought and discussion as to how these devices can be used and whether we have the right to do so.
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