One would think that in the comfort of your own home, behind four solid walls, you were protected from the prying eyes of modern security systems. Only Superman could be aware that that the reason you weren't in work today was because you were getting high and watching ‘Rastamouse’ on iPlayer. Sadly, such freedoms are set to be a diminishing comfort in today’s modern world... and it all comes down to Wi-Fi.
In an article in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, American researchers have developed the capability to monitor people's movements through walls, with the use of Wi-Fi. Following this development of ‘bistatic Wi-Fi radar’, researchers at University College London have subsequently carried out the first successful through-the-wall (TTW) detection of people’s movements using passive Wi-Fi radar.
The experiment involved monitoring individuals in a Wi-Fi enabled building. The targets were then monitored from outside using a 2.4 GHz passive multi-static receiver. The data was then processed offline in order to determine the movements of the targets inside the building.
UK citizens are already the most watched population in the world. Wi-Fi ports cover most of the country, in cafes, workplaces and of course our homes. Currently, the biggest limitation on the system is the signal-to-interference ratio, or SIR. However, once the technology is perfected by security companies, they are already working to suppress this interference considerably, we will see our freedom and privacy, already highly controlled, drastically reduced as government and security develop the capabilities to monitor our every action.
Such in invasion into the private life of the individual echoes George Orwell’s ‘1984’. With such a development in security, UK citizens might one day find the privacy of their own homes coming under more and more scrutiny where every wifi port in the country is a passport for government and security companies to track people's movements. Fortunately this is all likely to be a long way away, as luckily in the UK there are still many legislative boundaries that such a technology would have to overcome. We should therefore have the time to either start using alternatives to wifi or building extra thick walls. So we can all relax knowing that for the time being only superman will know what we’re really up too.
By Alasdair Melrose