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Whenever the prefix “omni-” appears, it means “all.”

  • omnipresent — all present in all places
  • omnipotent — all powerful against all powers
  • omniscient — all knowledge about all things
  • omnibenevolence — all good to all things at all times

These attributes are commonly and historically attributed to the Divine nature and character of God. Here of late, however, there has emerged yet another “omni-” that, when left to purely human devices, can be most disturbing and unsettling: omniveillance (first coined by Kim Taipale in 1999)– the ability to observe, monitor, all things at all times.

One of the originating points by which “omniveillance” was introduced was an article that appeared in the Santa Clara Law Review on January 1, 2009, entitled “Omniveillance, Google, Privacy in Public, and the Right to Your Digital Identity: A Tort for Recording and Disseminating an Individual’s Image over the Internet,” by Josh Blackman,  Assistant Professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. Within this 81-page treatise, Blackman writes:

“Google does not only record streets. Its high-resolution cameras are able to capture people, both outside and inside of their homes through open windows, engaged in private matters. Those captured by Google’s cameras are not even aware they are being recorded, as Google uses nondescript recording equipment to clandestinely  record people in their natural state. These images are then disseminated to users all over the world.
“Current privacy laws do not prevent Google from implementing a system that broadcasts live video feeds of street corners throughout America. This threat is all the more real in light of projected trends in technology and the path of future Internet developments.

“Such pervasive human monitoring is the essence of the phenomenon this article has termed ‘omniveillance.'”

“Omniveillance is a form of omnipresent and omniscient digital surveillance in public places that is broadcasted indiscriminately through-out the Internet. Due to the unselective nature of this technology, neither news-worthiness nor a person’s solitude is of any concern.”

In an article posted on CNN Money entitled, “Your face is secretly being used against you,” David Goldman writes: “Retailers and advertisers want to scan your face to identify you, track you, and market stuff to you — all without your consent.

“Your face is the key to unlocking everything you keep private. On social media sites — particularly Facebook (FB, Tech30)– your friends, interests, location and past purchases can be linked to your photo. That’s a gold mine for advertisers.  Until recently, however, there was no way to link your online treasure trove of data with your offline persona. Walk into a store, and retailers had no idea who you are or how to market stuff to you. That has changed in the past couple years as facial recognition technology has become more robust. Now, your face has become the link between your offline and online presences.”

Are we sliding rapidly down a slippery slope that will take us places of supreme secret scrutiny that we will regret once we get there?

For more reading on “Omniveillance” —


Oliver Stone talks Global Surveillance in his new film: Snowden.snowden-2016-movie-poster

He says: “Why is bulk surveillance necessary? Why are we taping the whole world? I feel everything is going into a giant data collector. Who’s to say that one day a president won’t come in and stage a retro-active roundup of all the people who think different? I don’t feel anything is private.” – WIRED Oct. 2016

The Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy: Working Paper – “The Surveillance Society”

“Omniveillance, Google, Privacy in Public, and the Right to Your Digital Identity: A Tort for Recording and Disseminating an Individual’s Image over the Internet” by Josh Blackman

“Omniveillance” at

“CBS This Morning” carried this report on Smart Street Lights: New LED lights with sensors raise privacy concerns on June 30, 2014 —

[YouTube —

Omniveillance Everywhere —

  • HART Database Captures More Than Facial Rec“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States.”
  • VOICE REC IS TERRIFYING – Embedded Computing Design magazine, Winter 2017 – “If you own an Echo and weren’t aware of this feature, open up your Alexa app, select the ‘Settings’ menu, and then select ‘History.’ Take a listen. Were all of those recordings intended for the Echo?”
  • In a cameras-everywhere culture, science fiction becomes realityIt’s not just Big Brother: In the era of cameras everywhere, anyone can be watching.
  • Surveillance cameras are everywhere — even on your smartphoneRight now, video is the main input that computers have for understanding the physical world. Video takes in the trees and cars and people and turns them into data that software can analyze. When there are cameras everywhere, there will be analytics everywhere. Vast new realms of life will be tracked and measured and optimized in the way that the web is now.
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