Yes, You are Being Watched

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2001-06-25 Print this article Print

It's perfectly logical that a public space should be viewable online by anyone who'd like to know what's happening there.

Its perfectly logical that a public space should be viewable online by anyone whod like to know whats happening there. Even so, I felt a transient chill when I spotted this sign ("Activities in this Auditorium are streamed to the IBM Internet and are often recorded.") at the entrance of an auditorium at IBMs Almaden research facility.

Combined with the smart-card badges that were issued to meeting attendees and the wireless-networked card-reader devices that checked us all into each session, I found myself thinking, "You asked for it; you got it."

We have pervasive networking; we have real-time collaboration with a worldwide community. Socially, I wonder if were ready.

The government of Alberta has produced a "Guide to Using Surveillance Cameras in Public Areas" (search the Web for that exact phrase). These guidelines may help in avoiding costly misunderstandings.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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