The Calgary Herald | August 23, 2010

aacimages The Eyes have it for Techno Fascists

Every once in a while you come across a story that

will make the hair on the back of your neck stand

on end as soon as you read the first couple of
paragraphs. Sadly, this is one of those stories.

Last week, business and technology journal

Fast Company reported that a U.S. company

named Global Rainmakers Inc. is embarking

on a grand techno-fascist project in Leon,

Mexico, where it will roll out iris-scanning

technology to create what it calls “the
most secure city in the world.”

When the million-plus residents of Leon go to

the bank, get on a bus or walk into a medical

clinic, their eyes will be scanned by machines

that can handle up to 50 people per minute in

motion, automatically entering the information

into a central database monitored by the

Jeff Carter, the CDO of GRI, is enthusiastic.

“In the future, whether it’s entering your home,

opening your car, entering your workspace,

getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having

your medical records pulled up, everything will

come off that unique key that is your iris,” he told

Fast Company.

“Every person, place, and thing on this planet will

be connected (to the iris system) within the next

10 years,” he added.

To begin, GRI’s scanners are scheduled to be

installed in law enforcement facilities, security

check-points, police stations, and prisons.

The authorities in Leon are set to automatically

“enrol” convicted criminals, scanning their irises

and entering them into the
database for future use.

The next phase will see scanners placed in

mass transit, medical centres and banks with

the expectation that they will be used by everyone

else. The technology is meant to have both

governmental and commercial uses (for example,

personalized advertising or billboards that actively

track who looks at them), so if residents of Leon want a
glimpse into the future, they can rent Minority

Report DVDs. Carter seems undisturbed by all this.

“If you’ve been convicted of a crime, in essence,

this will act as a digital scarlet letter,” he said.

“If you’re a known shoplifter, for example, you

won’t be able to go into a store without being

flagged. Forothers, boarding a plane will be impossible.”

Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in,

although Carter hopes that they will be incentivized

to do so by the government and by private companies.

“When you get masses of people opting-in, opting

out does not help,” he said.

“Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than

just being part of the system. We believe everyone

will opt-in.”

Lest anyone think that Carter and his colleagues

are just misguided scientists who do not understand

the implications of what they are selling, the CEO of

Global Rainmakers Hector Hoyos dispels that myth
rather nicely.

“September 11 had a huge impact on my life — it

made me move to New York and do what I’m doing

today,” he told the Hispanic Engineer & Information

Technology magazine in an interview just days before

GRI’s project in Leon was announced. “This is one thing

I’ve based my life’s work on: identifying the needle in the

haystack. I’ve been working to develop the technology,

product, and solutions to enable the identification of the

bad guys and hopefully rid the world of them. My
purpose is to be able to weed out anyone who wants

to harm us or our way
of life.”

Who is a criminal or a threat? What would “ridding

the world of them” entail? That’s up to the Mexican

authorities and the good people at GRI, for now.

But, if GRI and the authorities in Leon are successful,

then they will create the authoritarian’s wet dream, a

system that will track individuals from the moment

that they enter the public square and follow
and monitor them all day long, with Big Brother

looking for patterns and transgressions while

marketing companies assault the senses with
personalized ads.

No matter what our politicians and newspaper

columnists say, our way of life or how we enjoy

our freedoms are not threatened by bad census

forms, boatfuls of Tamil refugees, or by an Islamic

cultural centre within a few blocks of the former

World Trade Center in New York.

Instead, the meaningful threats come from

the nexus of paranoia and centralized control,

and truly Orwellian technologies, always put

in place in the name of the public good.

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