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Three New Tools for Identifying Who’s Watching You

by Dale Chappell

With the countless ways the government can collect data on you, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) has introduced three new tools to help you identify what technologies are being used by government agencies to watch you. The tools are free to use and do not collect any personal information from you, the EFF says.

The Atlas of Surveillance is a database and map that shows what electronic surveillance is being used locally where you live, as well as on a national scale. It’s a dataset of more than 5,500 points of information on the technology used by law enforcement agencies. By clicking on the map, you can obtain more information on the technology and the name of the agency using it.

Who Has Your Face? is a website that asks basic questions, like what state your driver’s license is issued from, to tell you which government agencies have access to your face. With half of all adults in the U.S. likely having their face in a law enforcement facial-recognition database, this tool could be revealing. Think about how often a camera captures your image in public—from interactions with police to screenings at the airport, to any protests you might encounter—law enforcement employs facial-recognition in many ways.

Spot the Surveillance is a virtual reality experience that puts you in a scenario where a citizen interacts with law enforcement. Wearing a VR headset, you can look around to find seven different technologies being used by the police. You’ll learn more about how each operates and how it’s being used. If you don’t have a VR headset, you can use the tool with a common web browser.

It’s often difficult for people to know what electronic surveillance devices are being used to watch them. With EFF’s new tools, the public can be more aware of, and maybe more careful about, how their personal information is being used by the government.



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