The Village Voice has a very good article by Noah Shachtman on military research to track individuals using extant systems of videocameras. Maybe the most startling thing about it:

This isn’t some science fiction nightmare. Far from it. CTS [Combat Zones That See] depends on parts you could get, in a pinch, at Kmart.

“There’s almost a 100 percent chance that it will work,” said Jim Lewis, who heads the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “because it’s just connecting things that already exist.”…

“(CTS) is pretty creepy. And the creepiest part about it is that it’s not all that sophisticated,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the privacy-rights proponent Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I’m of very mixed feelings about systems like these. Actually, I’m not. What really bothers me, on top of the obvious civil liberties / police state problems that public monitoring technologies raise, is that we’re on the verge of being able to do some really extraordinary things with collaboration, recommendations agents, personal data management, smart environments, and location awareness. These systems that could be designed in ways that do not infringe on our privacy. But programs like CTS could throw a wet blanket over those efforts, which would be a real shame.

[via Paul Saffo]