Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jacksonville is Watching You

Everyone's talking about the city of Jacksonville's latest scheme, a system of "smart street lights" that will be openly used to gather data on citizens and monitor their activity. The system comes from General Electric, a corporation whose commitment to Big Brother tactics (and a long history of really crappy home appliances and poor customer service) is well documented.

So enraptured are these fascists with their new toy, they can't seem to keep their stories straight, however. David DeCamp, city spokesman, said that your personal data will be "hosted on GE Lighting's network, city and JEA may request data and use it internally." He then goes on to say "Data may be shared with third parties only with written consent of GE Lighting." Why does this not make me feel any better about the whole thing? And yet Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is openly admitting he plans to use this data to fight the war on "distracted driving":

“I am fully supportive of preventing distracted driving,” Mayor Brown said, emphasizing that he recently signed a pledge to combat it throughout the city. “I want this data to impact performance. It's cost-effective and it will empower citizens and employees with data to use.”

But you might be surprised to learn that this is nothing new. In a little-noticed news report from 2011, we find that Jacksonville Police have already had twenty hidden cameras mounted in various places, like traffic lights and building rooftops. ""The cameras are not there to spy on people," the article quotes some dirtbag official, "They're actually there to make sure everyone is secure." Riiiiiight. And when they asked him if recordings are being kept, he wouldn't say.

Jacksonville has never been in my top 10 list of favorite Florida cities, and my desire to ever set foot there again is waning even further now. (Jacksonville Beach, on the other hand, I miss dearly. Despite the similar name, it's a totally separate city.)

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