And Now We Have to Worry About Billboards Stealing Our Personal Data

Well here’s a nice dystopian start to the week: digital billboards now have the capability to record us, analyze us, and make content decisions based on that information.

As reported by The Guardian, the tech is already being used in over 1,600 locations across Australia and New Zealand. “The semi-camouflaged cameras can determine not only your age and gender but your mood, cueing up tailored advertisements within seconds, thanks to facial detection technology.”

Located primarily in Australia and New Zealand’s biggest malls, the billboards could start popping up around the rest of the world very soon the story said, due to “significant investment and growth potential.”

For whatever it’s worth, if you remove all of the Kafkaesque ramifications and forthcoming misuse cases, the tech is kind of impressive: cameras turn “blurry images” of people into targeted content in a literal instant. Those cameras can even distinguish between “five categories of mood from ‘very happy to very unhappy,’” according to Quividi, one of the tech’s purveyors.

But, if all of this sounds perilous, that’s because it is. International deployment will bring on “major concerns about how to protect the privacy of those whose data is collected.” As one expert said, “Unless we have a massive shift in the way data accumulation is governed and limited and protected, we’re in for a really dystopian way of living where we don’t get to escape those sorts of things.”

You can read more about it at The Guardian.

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