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EFF’s VR surveillance experience is great for paranoid privacy junkies

YOU’RE BEING WATCHED, yes you. No don’t look around otherwise they’ll know you’re there. Also take your hand out of your pants you dirty thing.

That scenario is one that many Brits, especially Londoners, face due to the massive amounts of surveillance tech used to keep tabs on the public and to help private companies and individuals keep an eye out for would-be crooks.

Basically, Britain’s state of surveillance is like Neighbourhood Watch on steroids, only with CCTV cameras, facial recognition tech, and license plate readers in the place of Nosey Nigel and Curtain-twitching Carol.

This is a bee in the bonnet of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has created a virtual reality experience designed to show users just how much they are snooped on by surveillance tech.

Dubbed Spot the Surveillance, the VR experience is directed from the perspective of a young person’s encounter with rozzers on a San Francisco street, and tasks participants to spot all the tech and devices snooping upon them.

“We are living in an age of surveillance, where hard-to-spot cameras capture our faces and our license plates, drones in the sky videotape our streets and police carry mobile biometric devices to scan people’s fingerprints,” said Dave Maass, EFF’s senior investigative researcher.

“We made our Spot the Surveillance VR tool to help people recognise these spying technologies around them and understand what their capabilities are.”

Ideally, you’ll want to make use of a VR headset like an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to get the most out of the 10-minute-long experience, but Spot the Surveillance also works with within web browsers.

You’ll need to get hold of the test version that’s currently publically available, as the full release is not scheduled until Spring 2019. But it should help give an idea of just how much the average human in a Western nation is watched by tech.

“One of our goals at EFF is to experiment with how emerging online technologies can help bring about awareness and change,” said EFF web developer Laura Schatzkin, who coded the project.

“The issue of ubiquitous police surveillance was a perfect match for virtual reality. We hope that after being immersed in this digital experience users will acquire a new perspective on privacy that will stay with them when they remove the headset and go out into the real world.”

Of course, you could just go about your daily life with a dose of paranoia and continually try and spot cameras and hide your face with a hoodie or balaclava as that’s almost certainly not going to get you any attention whatsoever. µ

Source : Inquirer

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