Fusus is a surveillance platform that integrates public and private cameras into a single network accessible via the cloud. And in its first years of use it split the public's reactions in two. On the one hand, law enforcement agencies consider it an invaluable tool for monitoring and preventing crimes. For privacy defenders and civil rights activists, however, it is a serious attack on individual freedom and a target for cybercriminals.
What is it about exactly?
Il fusus system was created to provide law enforcement agencies with quick and easy access to accurate information through a network of licensed cameras. The company says the system "improves all public safety and investigation resources for law enforcement, first responders and private security personnel." In 2019 started working over some small American cities, and now includes more than 33.000 cameras.
Fusus allows institutions and companies to install devices called FususCores, which allow their cameras to be integrated into a mega network connected and accessible in real time by law enforcement agencies and first responders, without the need to ask for further authorisations.
A global eye that will kill privacy?
Platform critics argue that this huge network of cameras and dramatically increases the risk of improper use and outright abuse. Nia Sadler of the Triad Abolition Project highlights the risk of excessive surveillance unfairly targeting minority groups, protesters or other people based on demographics or affiliations.
I don't think he's entirely wrong. Fusus raises strong privacy and civil rights concerns, which need to be addressed before proceeding further with its implementation.
In essence, this system takes surveillance tools that, taken individually, are constitutional, and aggregates them into a persistent monitoring system. Which is blatantly unconstitutional.
On a technical level, the amount of data aggregated in just two systems (Fusus e Clearview, Of which we talked here) is the skeleton of a mass filing. Billions of photos, videos and citizen data thus centralized can also be a target for hackers interested in creating disorder or illegally accessing personal or corporate information.
Again, the dilemma is: public safety versus privacy and civil rights protection.
And the feeling, seeing these vast surveillance networks (soon linked to facial recognition systems and artificial intelligence) progress, is that the circle around everyone's personal spaces is drastically shrinking.