Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Taxis for Homeland Security

The New Yorker this week mentions of the installation of GPS in New York taxicabs for the purposes of surveillance by Homeland Security. It snagged my attention, and off to Google I went.

It turns out that New York doesn't have the only taxi drivers in which Homeland Security is interested. Someone up there is thinking big.

Check it out:

USA Today reports that taxi drivers in Las Vegas are admonished by Homeland Security to report suspicious activity, especially "people who are taking photographs or making diagrams of high-profile targets"

The Las Vegas Review Journal is on it. Video cameras are going into taxis, and libertarian privacy activists are getting antsy.

The Ledge of Liberty quotes a Homeland Security bulletin instructing the wary that if you *must* live in an urban district, it would be wise in these days of code red to cut line out of a taxi cue and hail your own cab.

Fascinating, isn't it? I mean, whether or not it adds up to a gigantic anti-privacy conspiracy, one does suspect that the rural red and urban blue state divide is coming into play in an interesting form during this administration's legislative tenure. Anti-urban conservative security jocks are liable to be more suspicious and less canny about the urban landscape than people who spend more time there.

On the other hand, what do I know about what's going on. Maybe deep in Homeland Security some urban-savvy landscape guru has long since enlisted the trust of dozens of taxicab drivers and paid them off to report tips about suspicious movement patterns. All I'm saying is that Homeland Security pays attention to interesting patterns, and doesn't necessarily interpret them correctly, and that the results of their experimentation will be fascinating for us all.


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