20 Sep 2019

Big Brother has Built Geofences to Control Behavior, Tesla Drivers Beware

City Hall Can Now Control Your Location.

The Snowden revelations opened the general public’s eyes to the (alleged) eavesdropping by the NSA and other government organizations. The Hong Kong protests showed the world how today’s mass video surveillance uses facial recognition to identify the location of people (for example, who is protesting what and when). City traffic light cameras send you nice pictures of yourself in the intersection just as the yellow light turns red, along with a hefty fine.

These are examples of Big Brother using technology to gather information and perhaps control behavior with monetary disincentive.

Big Brother’s foray into Geofencing is different. This marks the first time governments are able to directly control citizen behavior. Geofencing puts city hall staffers in control of your behavior with a few keystrokes from their computers.

Today, if you are riding a Bird, Lime, Uber or other electric share scooter, Big Brother can choose where it wants to limit your speed or instantly shut the engine off. Geofences can be so accurate it can restrict your mobility or speed based on precisely where you are. Big Brother regulates these scooters and requires use of the geofencing technology and the rules it applies – with decisions made city to city.

Is this new or nothing new?

The technology is not new. If you are a golfer, you may have experienced private sector geofencing if driving your golf cart too close to the green. The cart slows, and then may shut off so you have to push it back into permitted areas to restart your riding.

What is new is this is the first time this technology is being used on a mass scale by governments imposing behavior restrictions on the general public.

So, what might be next?

Beverly Hills became the first city in California to repel anyone on a scooter (read Los Angeles County city-by-city debate).

Big Brother could easily use geofencing technology to restrict the speed of Tesla drivers (or any driver in a modern car with built-in GPS always-on technology) based on where they drive, who they are, or when they drive. Small towns could repel drivers trying to Waze shortcut through their areas.  They could restrict more than speed; they could restrict whether you are permitted to visit certain locations, beaches, shopping plazas, residential neighborhoods, based on your health profile, financial tax profile, age, driving record, citizenship, education, profession, political party, or any data profile purchased from Google or Facebook.

Seem far fetched? Not really. The technology is already in place and being used; with decisions on who to restrict from what done at a very local level; staffers in city hall. And, potentially with restrictions based on information you shared with Google by sending your tax or financial information to or from Gmail or Microsoft email accounts unencrypted.

We are in a new era where your behavior can be controlled by your information profile. Geofencing is just the start.

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