THE BLOG
06/03/2008 03:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bad News For Paranoiacs

Big brother just got bigger. Conspiracy theorists start dusting off your tin foil hats now.

You've long known that on the Internet the watcher has become the one being watched. But did you know that the game has jumped to real life? In addition to places with known cameras, usually for security purposes like 7-11s, London and everywhere Britney Spears goes, cameras are now filming you from billboards.

Ostensibly the cameras are just for marketing purposes so that billboard owners can determine which demographic to target but, let's be honest, this one has hysteria written all over it. Quividi, the company that places the billboards here and abroad, says that "the cameras use software to determine that a person is standing in front of a billboard, then analyze facial features (like cheekbone height and the distance between the nose and the chin) to judge the person's gender and age. So far the companies are not using race as a parameter, but they say that they can and will soon." So far no news if they can x-ray your wallet to see if you have that black Am-Ex but I'm sure that's coming.

Manhattanites were used as guinea pigs over Memorial Day weekend (oh the irony) to test out the new technology. Philly was also used but was obviously a second choice as their billboard was smaller and down in the subway while Manhattan enjoyed the feeling of being watched from 8th avenue.

"Everything we do is completely anonymous," said Paolo Prandoni, chief scientific officer and lead voyeur at Quividi. Exactly one person was reassured by this statement. The rest are calling their lawyers as we speak.

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