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Setting The Scene

Tech Myths: Surveillance and Electrostatic
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Question: Are public surveillance cameras good enough to deliver Hollywood-class feats of interpolation while tracking our movements?

I’ll spare you from a full review of "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets" and simply say that I found the flick so wholly forgettable that I recently ordered it from Netflix after having already seen it a year earlier. I just had to get several scenes into the movie before anything made enough of an impression to trigger a memory.

   Anyway, there’s a scene in NT2 where the bad guys are chasing Nicholas Cage’s character, Ben Gates, and friends through the streets of London, trying to seize the Olmec-carved wooden plank Gates just lifted from the Queen’s desk. Gates knows the bad guys are about to catch them, so he suddenly has a brainwave: speed through an intersection while holding the plank up to the car’s windshield, thus triggering the traffic camera to take a picture, pitch the plank off a bridge to distract the bad guys, then hack into London’s traffic computer system to steal the image, which only takes a few seconds.

I don’t want to say that the movie got me thinking, because that might give you the impression that it was in any way “thought-inspiring,” at least in the usual, intellectual sense. Personally, I thought the best part of the movie was when I put the disc back in the mailbox. But that bit about the traffic cameras and hacking stuck in my head, perhaps because I’d shortly afterward read some news articles about privacy and had occasion to review several home-surveillance cameras. So I got to wondering...

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