The future of surveillance is hidden in airport ads

The future of surveillance is hidden in airport ads
From Engadget - October 13, 2017

Travellers' eyes will roam the enclosed tunnel and its virtual shimmering aquarium as they head to their gate, while their biometric data is seamlessly collected, compared, and stored .... somewhere, under unknown terms and conditions. According to officials presenting the security and customs tunnel at the 37th Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) Technology Week at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, its video shows will not be limited to chicken of the sea. The airport plans to also distract its very captive audience with desert scenes, majestically galloping white horses, or ... advertisements.

"The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveller but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travellers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his/her face print," Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, deputy director general of Dubai residency and foreign affairs, told press.

Travellers are expected to "register" their faces at kiosks throughout the airport so they may travel. The tunnel will replace the terminal's security control desk. "At the end of the tunnel," The National reported, "if the traveler is already registered, they will either receive a green message that says "have a nice trip" or, if the person is wanted for some reason, a red sign will alert the operations room to interfere." You can watch a video of their reporter's walkthrough here.

Australia is currently considering the same thing, where passengers are filtered through a tunnel that seamlessly captures their biometrics (facial scanning) as they go through the airport.

The "virtual aquarium tunnel" was four years in the making, and debuted this week at GITEX. Other stars of the GITEX innovation conference included a flying autonomous taxi and drone motorcycle for police. This year the theme at GITEX is "Re-Imagining Realities" with a focus on smart cities.

When surveillance becomes "look at the pretty fish"

The best dystopian fiction frightens because it shows us our future in a hideous funhouse mirror; we know it's based on reality yet its contortions are too despotically insane to seem possible. Such was the vibe in the sci-fi film Minority Report, and its memorable scene of Tom Cruise continually being recognized and served intrusive, personalized ads as he's desperately trying to escape a smart city of the future. To avoid the intertwined systems of intrusive, tailored advertising based on his identity and having his movements tracked and sent to police, he gets surgery from a black market doctor.

Maybe, like today's social media sites like to tell us, the science fiction dystopia of Minority Report was just trying to make his advertising experience better. But considering that the Dubai International Airport is already talking about its security scanner as an advertising surveillance tunnel, it feels like science fiction is letting our current world off the hook by comparison.

You have to wonder where this is leading, all dystopian things considered. I mean, are they being considered? We know that Facebook, ever servile in its advertising greed, has created the world's largest database of biometric identity by way of its nonconsensual facial recognition program performed on all its users. And this is where we have the first clear instance of law enforcement and advertisers mingling in a facial scanning, AI-run security network. And that, according to Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, surreptitious retinal scanning will be added to the 80-camera tunnels in the near future.

It's scary because dystopian science fiction was supposed to be cautionary tales. Blade Runner was meant to be far-out sci-fi about the brutal contradictions of identity ownership and creating a disposable, trackable working class.

Maybe a 15% chance of cavity search


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