Mexican city becomes test-bed for next-gen surveillance tech

Posted by on August 19th, 2010 in crime, doomed future, post-privacy, surveillance

As Fast Company report Leon, Mexico is about to become the test-bed for a Future; but it might not be the Future you’re looking for:

Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) announced today that it is rolling out its iris scanning technology to create what it calls “the most secure city in the world.” In a partnership with Leon — one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of more than a million — GRI will fill the city with eye-scanners. That will help law enforcement revolutionize the way we live — not to mention marketers.

“In the future, whether it’s entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris,” says Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers. Before coming to GRI, Carter headed a think tank partnership between Bank of America, Harvard, and MIT. “Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years,” he says.

Leon is the first step. To implement the system, the city is creating a database of irises. Criminals will automatically be enrolled, their irises scanned once convicted. Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in.

When these residents catch a train or bus, or take out money from an ATM, they will scan their irises, rather than swiping a metro or bank card. Police officers will monitor these scans and track the movements of watch-listed individuals. “Fraud, which is a $50 billion problem, will be completely eradicated,” says Carter.

This video, taken from GRI’s website, shows how the system works:

YouTube Preview Image

Touching on the rather obvious privacy issues, Fast Company write:

For such a Big Brother-esque system, why would any law-abiding resident ever volunteer to scan their irises into a public database, and sacrifice their privacy? GRI hopes that the immediate value the system creates will alleviate any concern. “There’s a lot of convenience to this–you’ll have nothing to carry except your eyes,” says Carter, claiming that consumers will no longer be carded at bars and liquor stores. And he has a warning for those thinking of opting out: “When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in.

When I asked Carter whether he felt the film was intended as a dystopian view of the future of privacy, he pointed out that much of our private life is already tracked by telecoms and banks, not to mention Facebook. “The banks already know more about what we do in our daily life–they know what we eat, where we go, what we purchase–our deepest secrets,” he says. “We’re not talking about anything different here–just a system that’s good for all of us.”

So there you have it. Facebook and all those loyalty cards are now being used as a precedent to create a complete panopticon.

via Gizmodo | thanks for the tip-off Cat Vincent!

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3 Responses to “Mexican city becomes test-bed for next-gen surveillance tech”

  1. I'm wondering how much the iris distorts when the eye is removed from the skull. Any Med Students out there to answer this question? Or are we going to be seeing more eye-patches in Mexico City?

  2. Well, I guess that just means that we'll have one more thing to blow up when the cyberpunk revolution gets underway.

  3. [...] shown in the mall scene in Minority Report is just part of the biometric scanning system already being prototyped in Leon, Mexico.  Good for the marketers and authorities who like to track people, more than a little annoying to [...]