Watched

We are constantly watched as we go about our lives. To reduce crime security cameras record us as we walk down the street and into stores. To better deliver advertisements computers monitor our every move online in order. In addition to corporations the government also monitors what we do digitally through a large variety of methods. The most controversial being the PRISM program which collected huge amounts of cell phone metadata (information like who you called, at what time, for how long, and where you were at the time)

Digitally embedded in my photographs is the text of the patriot act as well as the 2008 FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) amendment. The patriot act was passed in 2001 in response to September 11th attacks. It gives broad powers to the CIA, NSA, and FBI to obtain information about US citizens without a warrant. The FISA amendment loosened the requirements to obtain a secret FISA warrant to perform surveillance. The NSA has used several provisions from the patriot act as well as the FISA amendment to justify the bulk collection of phone call metadata. Until recently the NSA was able to secretly record the metadata for every telephone call in the United States and analyze it without seeking individual warrants for each person.

The text is embedded in my photographs using a stenographic algorithm that changes each individual pixel an imperceptible amount. That small change allows someone to embed text or even other images into the photograph without any noticeable difference. The only way to tell would be to scan the image using the original algorithm that was used to embed it, using a visual forensic tool to look for changes in the small details of the image, or using a statistical analysis to look for evidence that something has been hidden in the image. Using the same software at a later point someone can extract what was embedded but only if they know that the information exists and they use the same algorithm.