U.S. Senator Calls For Federal Investigation Of Billboards Spying On The Public

city-869064_960_720By Nicholas West

As we move more obviously into a Minority Report-style world, it still remains to be seen just how far the public is willing to let technology intrude upon their everyday lives.

One area that seems to be generating increased concern is the use of biometrics and mobile phone location data to identify shopping habits.

Several years ago a notice appeared at Promenade Temecula in California, and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. which advised shoppers that their cell phone signal would be used to track them as they move from store to store. Despite privacy assurances, that test-run produced enough outrage to force the UK maker of the technology, Path Intelligence, as well as mall management to halt the surveillance. Senator Charles Schumer was embroiled in the debate and subsequently put forth a Code of Conduct “to promote consumer privacy and responsible data use for retail location analytics.” At the time it was described as a step in the right direction, while other lawmakers still saw major privacy gaps.

Now this type of technology has trickled out of private enterprise and into public space. And, once again, Senator Charles Schumer is making statements that he seeks to rein it in.

At issue is a new type of billboard that uses facial recognition surveillance combined with mobile phone tracking to study travel and shopping patterns. The program, called RADAR, is the brainchild of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas working together with a range of tech companies including AT&T. Clear Channel has already rolled it out in more than 10 major markets and, if all goes according to plan, could blanket the country by the end of the year.

One of the major markets currently in operation is Charles Schumer’s New York. It is worth noting right up front that Charles Schumer has given mixed signals about his full dedication to civil liberties as he has backed other draconian measures such as a “No Ride” list for train travel, and legislation to severely restrict 3D weapons manufacturing. He also ruffled feathers when he suggested that military veterans should take a pay cut, but Congress should not. That said, on the issue of privacy, he’s been reasonably consistent; he was one who called for an FTC investigation over Google and Apple’s privacy policies. Nevertheless, it would be wise to keep in mind that when a professional politician speaks, it’s often helpful to have a dose of salt on hand. In this specific case, he is at least saying the right things:

New York Sen. Charles Schumer has dubbed Clear Channel Outdoor Americas’ so-called RADAR program “spying billboards,” warning the service may violate privacy rights by tracking people’s cell phone data via the ad space.

“A person’s cellphone should not become a James Bond-like personal tracking device for a corporation to gather information about consumers without their consent,” Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement ahead of a planned news conference Sunday in Times Square, where the company operates billboards.


At the very least, this should begin to open a more public debate about what already has been going on without many people being aware. Clear Channel admits to operating 675,000 billboards across the world. Naturally, the company insists that all data collected is anonymized – something we have heard time and time again from other companies and governments, only to be followed by data leaks, hacks, and various forms of mining.

Now is the time to become aware of these plans, as well as other even more advanced forms. Switzerland’s Project Skye is creating a fleet of drone billboards – no word yet on whether or not biometrics will be embedded. And perhaps most troubling with these high-tech billboards is something that I previously reported, but bears repeating in light of Schumer’s proposed investigation: “Hidden Cameras Are Being Used to Measure and Manipulate Political Views Around the World.” This agenda even has its own area of study, known as neuropolitics; and it is not limited only to dictatorial regimes.

It seems that the country to have first used this technology was Mexico in a 2012 campaign, and it continues today. Subsequently, campaigns in Poland, Turkey, and Colombia have gone on record with admissions of currently testing and employing these techniques. The following countries are listed as having pursued Neuropolitics in “limited ways” and/or intend to use the technology for upcoming campaigns:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • United States

While it is highly doubtful that Charles Schumer will go as far as revealing the possibility of using billboard tracking technologies in U.S. political campaigns, for now he is to be cautiously commended for bringing to light that which has already been hidden for far too long.

Hat tip: ZenGardner.com

Nicholas West writes for ActivistPost.com. This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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13 Comments on "U.S. Senator Calls For Federal Investigation Of Billboards Spying On The Public"

  1. Chuckie Schumer is a Zio-Terrorist just like the rest of Capital Hill.

  2. Another case of controlled opposition. Say the right things, do very little or nothing.

  3. Schumer get off your high horse and instead going after the billboard crape of an excuse. Get to the injustice being put on the American people of MAKING US excepting these illegal islamic muslims who are ourt character of the rest of the citizens of our country. We as a country HAVE NEVER GOTTEN ALONG WITH THESE PEOPLE, WE HAVE A HISTORY OF NOT TRUSTING THEM . Not many of us go to their country. and bimbo wants us to trust them —-REALLY, EVEN OUR MILITARY DOESN’T TRUST THEM. They are here for one reason and one reason only to take over our country and we aren’t wanting to go along with this.

    • Please tell us all about the illegal Muslim immigants. I’ve read exactly zero about that and I read the news for several hours everyday, I don’t watch mainstream media either. So where are these hordes of illegal Muslims coming from? How many are there? Where are they arriving to? Which news is telling you this? Please include at least 2 reliable sources, as that is standard when presenting “facts”.
      You cant, because there aren’t any. And not one Muslim has tried to pass sharia law. The fundie Christians, OTOH, are busy passing laws which infringe on every woman’s LEGAL right to an abortion and birth control, which is getting harder and harder to get. Also, all the anti-LGBTG laws, making criminals out of innocent people who never harmed anyone.

      We have the Christian Dominionists/theocrats on our front door step in the form of Ted Cruz, who wants to make America under fundie Christian Old Testament law. And you’re worried about non-existant illegal Muslims taking over?? We’ve ALREADY been taken over by the Christian fundies, who have taken over our govt and and our lives.

      • Here is one that you possible didn’t read. A few months ago obama had them coming in on the UPS plane at night and loading up in buses to where ever. NOw I read alot during the day on different websites But I have noticed for awhile now that the news of them are becoming scant in reporting. Media is in obama pocket as you well know. Now what I read was over 6to 9 months ago. I have even noticed how the TV is having alot of repeat of shows and movies. There has been alot of under the table stuff going on., from other sites that I have been reading.

        • Barbara, unfortunately UPS and FedEx planes are still flying in loaded with ILLEGAL ALIENS and DHS busses take them away under cover of darkness. I have friends near flight paths who pay attention.

          • barbarakelly | May 4, 2016 at 6:56 pm |

            Thank you Bob, that is good info to know. everyone needs to know what this bugger is doing. He is as evil as they come. I wish a hole to open and swallow him up.!!!!

        • I work for UPS and I can tell you that the planes are set up to haul cargo, not people. The whole floor of the planes are roller balls that allow the air containers to be rolled around and locked into place.
          I think you may have your tinfoil hat on a little too tight.

      • The only such anti-LGBT laws were passed in only two states – Mississippi and North Carolina – and those laws were passed and signed to keep men’s and women’s restrooms separate. Why should men who feel they are women enter a women’s restroom while mothers and daughters are already using that facility? The Target stores have already lost $1.5 billion due to their policy of allowing such men to use the women’s restroom and putting women and girls at risk of sexual assault.
        There were already incidents of men filming women and girls in women’s restrooms in a number of Target stores, causing them to file complaints. Now, if you regard such voyeurism as not harming anyone, you’re delusional. Propagandizing such stuff to children is harmful, and that’s why Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Duma deemed such propagandizing a criminal offense.

      • “non-existant illegal mudslimes”……
        Emmett, my dear, UPS, FedEx, etc… have been flying in illegal aliens for several years now. This information comes to us by airport employees.

        At night, those who live near flight paths can hear heavily loaded aircraft overhead. Under cover of darkness, one can see these planes taxi to the edge of airports, unload their non-white human cargo down the steps and onto DHS busses – – as many as 18 busses at a time. The windows on these busses are blacked out. As they leave the airport, the busses disappear into the darkness and spread their cargo to who knows where.

        This is not the America I want to live in.

        TRUMP – To Make America Great Again!

      • The media has made no secret of Obama’s bringing in thousands of Syrian refugees, even after our intelligence community has stated that ISIS will certainly be infiltrating them. These people are being resettled all over the country and even local officials are not informed of it

  4. “I came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass…and I.m all out of bubble gum.” Rowdy rod piper They Live (RIP)

  5. What they admit to is ALWAYS a very small portion of what’s REALLY going on.

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