Creeping Panopticon

For September, my column, Discontinuities, written for Current Intelligence, looks more deeply at the growing culture of surveillance in developed countries. “Human Flesh Search Engines,” examines efforts by both states and private entities to see and know more about us, and explores how we are increasingly being forced to choose to be more legible to technological monitoring or take countermeasures to erase or obscure our footprints in the world. An excerpt:

Around the edges of these intelligent face-spotting networks, analog countermeasures such as hoodies, hats and burkhas have been deployed for as long as people have been concerned about their privacy. More inventive bottom-up responses are now in development. Jan Chipchase of frog design noted in his recent survey of the issue that this is already happening with online reputation “cleaning”. Soon, there will surely will be a brisk business in scrubbing facial trails from the web. If current market dynamics are any gauge, there will even be visual SEO experts making sure the face of the hot celebrity, local estate agent or besuited business guru is sufficiently robot readable.”

Read on.