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December 16, 2004

Commence Tinfoil Hats!

Over on Slashdot, the tinfoil beanie crowd is going nuts over the "news" that the USPS self-serve kiosks are "secretly" taking pictures of the customer.

First of all: duh? The first thing I noticed on the kiosk was the camera. If you've ever used an ATM, it's kind of hard to miss the rather obvious camera area built into the QuickPost stations. People don't usually put dark, reflective pieces of glass into ATM-like devices for the hell of it.

Further, my local USPS branch (like nearly all of them these days) is crawling with surveillance cameras anyway. One pointed at the line, one pointed at the store, one pointed at the pickup window, two pointed at the service counter, one pointed at the QuickPost and its parcel drop...

A camera in the QuickPost station isn't an "invasion of privacy." You're the one that decided to use it, and also the moron who didn't notice the rather obvious camera (and bitches about it in spite of the fact you're surrounded by cameras recording your every move already).

Think about it, "privacy" advocates: QuickPost stations have cameras for the same reason ATMs do.

Let's say Al K. Duh steals your wallet. He has a hankering to mail a couple bombs and some anthrax without those pesky counter clerks noticing the greasy packaging, ticking sound, and white powder. So he goes to the QuickPost kiosk with your credit cards.

Upon inserting any one of your cards, the machine now has identification for you -- after all, it's your card number and your name that the card reader just gleaned off the stripe. Without the picture, Al just pops those puppies in the mail drop and off you go to Gitmo. With the picture, the inimitable Sherlock Holmes can say: "Goodness, Watson, the swarthy middle-eastern man using this QuickPost terminal looks exactly nothing like the man who owns these credit cards." Instead of being hauled off under the PATRIOT Act, you get to sit at home and get drunk off your ass on cheap booze.

Nevermind the fact you shed your reasonable expectation of privacy the moment you walk out your front door, which the tinfoil beanie crowd always seems to ignore. If you're out and about in the world, someone, anyone, anything can see you. Oh my heavens it's an invasion of my privacy to walk down the street! My neighbor just looked at me! Run away! Run away! </MontyPython>

And remember -- they say God can see you all the time. Even when you're masturbating!

Posted by Colin at December 16, 2004 8:48 AM

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