Open Source Sensing: Environmental & Security Monitoring Without Risk to Civil Liberties


Over the coming years, inexpensive and programmable sensors able to track down to the molecular level will become ubiquitous.  Bringing major environmental and security benefits, these devices also raise privacy and civil liberty concerns.   Rather than develop closed-source, proprietary sensing and recording devices, we could instead design, build, and operate devices based on open source hardware and software which can verifiably detect only actual materials of concern, rather than tracking the location and behavior of individuals or the presence of non-pollutant, non-weapons materials (e.g., recreational drugs).


We’ll look for steps toward citizen-controlled, privacy-oriented, verifiably-limited sensing devices and procedures focused on obtaining and sharing the *minimal* data required for communities to satisfy the reasonable concerns of their neighbors — international and domestic — regarding the possible presence of pollutants and weapons.


Perhaps most important, open source processes could also be used to set process standards for which substances are detected, who gets the data collected, how long the data is kept, and how it can legally be used.


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Discussion leader: Christine Peterson, Foresight Institute