... the journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

The next magnets belong to the fridge of my friend Olivia

* Discussion *

What do you feel about the ability for government agencies to spy on us?

Talk about it here.

Or your might want to discuss comfy shoes.

Read the forum that was banned by one reader's office computer because it has "sexual content." I must be having more fun than I thought!


Tipping the Velvet
Sarah Waters



Pictures from the Pride March in SF are now up at Club Photo, as are the photos from our weekend in Santa Barbara.

That's it for today!



4 July 2001

On this day when our country celebrates its independence, there is disturbing information that we should think about. According to a news report I saw today (and interviews with the individuals involved), the city of Tampa, Florida has begun using face-scanning equipment in certain high-traffic locations which allows them to scan the faces in crowds, and with the use of special software, compare the facial patterns with that of wanted criminals. If you look like someone who may be a suspect you can be picked up and brought in for questioning.

It’s the equivalent of putting large masses of people through a high-tech police lineup without their knowledge.

Apparently this technique was used at the last Superbowl. And according to the report I saw this morning, police in London say that use of face-scanning software has reduced the crime rate in that city.

On the surface reducing crime seems like a laudible outcome. Those of us with nothing to hide may even feel that this is a wonderful new tool for the police, to help track down bad guys and bring them to justice.

But at what a price? If we get seduced by that kind of rationale, we move closer in the direction of a total surveillance society.

What freedoms are we willing to give up for additional security?

There is a slowly increasing erosion of our privacy, and where will it end?

We’ve recently heard of infrared cameras which can be used in planes or helicopters flying over houses to detect the heat of plant lights, which might indicate that someone is growing marijuana in their bedroom.

In Texas a case is still in the courts, which involved the police breaking into the home of a gay couple, on the report of a neighbor that he thought he heard "burglars." The couple were arrested for behavior in their own home, in their own bedroom.

Do we really want to give license to the bedroom police? Do we want authorities with the power to peek in our homes and make judgement calls on what we do behind locked doors?

Do I want the police equivalent of Martha Stewart coming to give my family room the white glove test? Could it come to that, if someone decides that it is desirable that all homes be dust-free?

The question was asked this morning about how long the record of the Tampa facial scans will be kept in the police database.

"They will be immediately discarded. No record will be collected at that point or at any point," the police assured the interviewer.

And we all know the police wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.

Don’t we?

(If you believe that, I have this neat little bridge I’m trying to sell...)

As you sit at a park somewhere this afternoon, getting ready for the sun to set and the fireworks to begin, joining with your fellow Americans in celebrating our freedom, take a furtive look around you. Is that a camera in the tree? Is there a helicopter overhead?

Is Big Brother watching you?

Happy Independence Day.

One Year Ago:

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 7/3/01 by Bev Sykes