There is a reason I put up so many posts about traffic cameras, they are the front lines of the coming privacy apocalypse. Moore’s Law dictates that processing power of computers doubles every year and a half on average. They do this by becoming smaller, more interconnected, and lower in energy consumption. This is in contrast with government, which gets bigger, more intrusive, and less efficient over time. In traffic cameras, the two meet. Government has found a source of revenue in crime, and a way to automate the process through private industry. The cameras pay for themselves fast enough to create their own explosive growth, and government expands to consume the new source of revenue. If crime drops off, government will seek to find or create more crimes in order to avoid revenue starvation. This started with red light cameras, and now according to the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago is considering trying to pay for their budget deficit by having traffic cameras scan every car on the road for current insurance and automatically send the owner of each a $500 ticket, regardless of whether they were driving.
This isn’t about cars or insurance, and it isn’t about my desire to get away with breaking traffic laws; I haven’t driven an automobile for over a decade. As Moore’s law kicks in, we will see surveillance become extremely cheap, and integrated into everything. Imagine you had your own personal thundercloud over your head that followed you around all day and zapped money out of your pocket every time you did anything not government approved. This isn’t some hypothetical slippery slope, this is the nearly inevitable path we are on. We can’t, and shouldn’t, stop the tech. If we don’t make it, someone else will. If we don’t make it, we don’t progress to the good it can bring. The Amish strategy of hiding their heads in the sand is a recipe for being conquered by those willing to use buttons. What we can do is make sure the government isn’t allowed to profit from its use.
There are several things people are doing to try and circumvent the cameras, from polarized licence plate covers that can only be viewed straight on, to clear reflective spray paint to blind the camera with the flash reflection, to GPS based traffic camera detectors.
What will be next once they get traffic cameras to scan for insurance? I’m guessing the next step is LCD signs complete with advertising while you wait for your light to turn green.