Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Virtual Alabama" Allows Anyone with .gov or .edu Email to Spy on You

Alabama's Department of Homeland Security has an application that allows anyone with a .gov or .edu email address to use the privacy-invading tools the government has implemented to spy on anyone virtually anywhere in the State of Alabama. The 3 minute propaganda video on their website tries to explain how the live video feeds are used for 'keeping our community safer', yet details how the EPA is using Virtual Alabama 'extensively' to watch what you're doing in your yard (2:40), and that it is used for economic development and other non-safety issues (2:05). This program is clearly being used to spy on the citizens of Alabama.

As troubling as it may be that any government employee with an .edu or .gov email can get the software, that's not the main issue. The ruggedness of the screening process for obtaining an account is unknown. The issue is the privacy of Alabama's citizens, which has been ignored. Even if the screening process to be granted an account is extremely stringent, the ability of users to use this data in a malicious way is far too great.

Political opponents can use this to gain a god-like advantage by tracking every move of their opponents and critics without having to leave a computer. The system has been implemented with cameras in both Selma City Schools (January 2010), and Dallas County Schools (June 2010). This creates a risk for children, as well.

Bottom line: The cameras shouldn't be there in the first place. The realtime surveillance of innocent citizens is the kind of thing you'd expect from a tyrant, not from a free State in the United States of America. This program, even according to it's own promotional video, does very little towards it's professed goal of 'keeping our community safer', and goes a very long way to destroying the very rights that make our State and Country great.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a link to a news story introducing the system. It makes no mention of the invasive characterists the program would later include.