The dawn of the twenty-first century has become the era of George Orwell's "1984." Technology that was found only in science fiction a few decades ago, is part of today's standards and procedures.
The world today is filled with cameras that can film an individual wherever he goes, his cell phone signal can pinpoint his location, and even one glance can reveal his true identity (Shenk 2003). Iris-recognition technology, soon to be common in places such as airports, offices, and banks, will simply scan an individual's eyes to reveal his idenity (Shenk 2003). Many feel that in this post-9/11 landscape, there is a serious need for these high-tech tools to help detect money laundering, encrypted e-mails, bio-weapons, and suitcase nukes (Shenk 2003).
Poseidon, a new electronic surveillance system, is a network of cameras that feeds a computer programmed to use a set of complex mathematical algorithms to distinguish between normal and distressed swimming (Shenk 2003). According to writer David Shenk, machines like Poseidon will redefine how we live, and the shift of this new technology will be substantial. Machines will recognize our faces, eyes and fingerprints, and will watch out for swimmers in distress, for radioactivity and germ-laden terrorists, for red-light runners and highway speeders, for diabetics and heart patients (Shenk 2003). Commonplace will be devices that monitor the breathing rhythms of infants in cribs, watch toddlers at day care, track children to and from school, keep an eye on the supply of orange juice in the refrigerator or alert when the milk has spoiled, watch calorie intake and burn-off, monitor air quality in homes and keep a look out for bugs and mice (Shenk 2003). Sensors as large as walls and as small as molecules in the bloodstream will send quiet signals to nearby computers, which will process and relay information to an individual, to his doctor, grocer, building manager, car mechanic, local fire or police department (Shenk 2003).
Several countries in Europe and Asia are introducing a citizen smart card that will serve as an official national ID and can hold personal medical history, social security information, serve as a passport, train pass, toll card, credit and debit card, long-distance phone card and library card (Shenk 2003). Moreover, the card can tap into systems that talk to each other, thus, merging the worlds of consumer convenience and citizen surveillance (Shenk 2003).
The U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) already brings together financial, law enforcement, and commercial databases and a considerable array of government agencies in a vast attempt to ferret out money laundering and other financial crimes, and a new commercial software tool called Coplink uses artificial intelligence algorithms to search the Internet and confidential crime databases, helping law enforcement agencies to connect all the dots in a complex investigation (Shenk 2003).
Great Britain has more than four million CCTV cameras nationwide, roughly one camera for every fifteen people, and one British sociologist estimates that the average visitor to London is now captured on video 300 times in a single day (Shenk 2003). The British government is now moving ahead to the next phase which is an ambitious vehicle surveillance system designed "to reduce serious and volume crime by denying criminals the use of the roads" (Shenk 2003). Relying on a synchronization between optical character-recognition software and criminal databases, fixed and mobile cameras available in every police force in England and Wales will scan license plates and flag suspicious ones (Shenk 2003).
Fingerprint identification has been used to solve crimes since the 19th century and today most countries require that all criminals be fingerprinted (Fingerprint 2004). Methods have been devised for developing fingerprint impressions left by criminals at crime scenes, and usually consists of using a brush and powder to mark the fingerprint which is then photographed and lifted from the surface using tape (Fingerprint 2004). A federal judge ruled in 2002 that due to inconsistencies in laboratory identification of fingerprints, fingerprint identification as practiced was not accurate enough to be used with qualification, and experts could not testify that an individual's fingerprints absolutely matched those found at a crime, although an expert may point out similarity between two sets of prints and may state that no two people have identical prints (Fingerprint 2004). However, the judge reversed himself two-month later after deciding that although the FBI's fingerprint identification procedures were not proven scientifically according to strict standards, they were nevertheless sufficiently reliable (Fingerprint 2004). In 1999, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began using a networked system that allows authorities to search 46 million sets of prints within minutes, where previously analysts had to sort through two football field's worth of file cabinets to compare prints (Shenk 2003). Arizona uses the fingerprints of illegal border crossers to check against a Department of Homeland Security database and against the FBI database (Shenk 2003). Future tracking will likely be done with irises because the more complex patterns leave less room for error (Shenk 2003).
At Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, frequent fliers can now save time with a program that stores their iris patterns on a card that they can swipe (Shenk 2003). Moreover, facial-recognition systems are being installed in airports, government buildings, stadiums, even streets, literally anywhere authorities fear potential misdeeds by known terrorists and fugitives (Shenk 2003). The system uses the database to create 73 ghostly, digital doppel-gangers called eigenfaces, which are computed by subtracting the characteristics of the average face from each face in the database to create mathematical variants (Shenk 2003). The original photo is compared to the set of eigenfaces and in each case is assigned a numerical value according to how well it corresponds, then with these values in memory, the system is set to hunt for the individual who might be using a disguise (Shenk 2003).
On a 560 acre complex of satellite dishes in Menwith Hill, England, the United States' National Security Agency runs what may be the largest surveillance station in the world (Shenk 2003). However, it is unclear whether this is connected with the program Echelon, which can intercept and analyze telephone and computer transmissions from around the globe, yet experts say the agency's supercomputers can millions of ordinary phone calls and e-mails an hour (Shenk 2003).
The use of thermal imaging devices came before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Danny Lee Kyllo, whose rights had been violated when police aimed one at his house and found hot spots in his roof from marijuana grow lights (Shenk 2003). The Court ruled that the act was an illegal search, even though no one had entered the house (Shenk 2003).
Biometircs fall into one of two categories, physiological and behavioral (Wu 1998). Fingerprinting is the most well-known physiological biometric and today finger-scanning devices avoid the messy ink associated with fingerprinting by having the user touch a glass plate or silicon chip which record an image of the fingertip's ridges and valleys (Wu 1998). Voice recognition technology is considered a behavioral biometric because an individual's voice changes with mood, and moreover, it is one of the cheapest technologies due to existing phone equipment (Wu 1998). Another behavioral biometric is dynamic signature verification which assesses the style and speed with which a person signs his or her name (Wu 1998).
Wiretapping by law enforcement and national security agencies can be done only under certain procedural safeguards, set out in Title III of the 1968
Omnibus Crime Control Act, which prohibits electronic tapping of conversations except under a court order, when consented to by one participant in the conversation, for certain necessary telephone company monitoring, and in surveillance allowed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (Udall 1990).
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is a criminal justice information database administered by the FBI and is used by 64,000 local, State,
and Federal agencies and holds over 19 million records related to convicted, wanted, unidentified, and missing persons, as well as descriptions of stolen articles, vehicles, guns, and license plates (Udall 1990). In 1987 the NCIC's Advisory Policy Board (APB) considered proposals to broaden the database in redesigning the NCIC system, to include records of misdemeanors and juvenile offenses, photographs and artist sketches of persons under investigation, DNA patterns, and other kinds of investigative information (Udall 1990).
DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the basic genetic material found in every cell of the body and is made up of four nucleotides, arranged in two long strands (Udall 1990). The order in which the four nucleotides fall along the strand of DNA varies, and although the chemical structure of the nucleotides are the same in every person, the nucleotides are sequenced in a different pattern in each individual, with the exception of twins, who have identical patterns (Udall 1990). Molecular biologists have developed a test in which the DNA is examined and mapped to determine the sequencing of nucleotides as a method of personal identification, called DNA typing or DNA fingerprinting (Udall 1990).
The analytical framework for evaluating the constitutionality of…