For a while now, the UK has had a fairly extensive network of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras recording its citizens’ movements in the hope of catching criminals. Now, Britain will be adding AI and audio capabilities to the cameras. The AI will sense for certain sounds or words, then focus on the person making those noises. Apparently, towns in the UK have already been abusing the current CCTV systems, many of which do not comply with UK regulations.
As Jim Harper notes in his excellent study “Understanding Privacy – and the Real Threats to It,” we should be concerned with this sort of government spying (which is coming to the US in the form of red light and face-recognition cameras) much more than with what our ISPs and websites are doing with our data. Government surveillance will be a much bigger danger to privacy than our voluntary agreements to give away information about our purchasing habits.