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A story in the Guardian today brings up some very interesting tidbits about the widespread use of CCTV in England, whose citizens are the most watched in the world.

The complete ubiquity of these cameras has signaled the end of any sense of privacy for British citizens.

From the article:

“But what if this impeccably liberal Observer journalist wanted to sneak out and buy a copy of the Sun or Nuts magazine so I could look at pictures of girls in their pants without anyone knowing? Or slack off to KFC to load up on the Colonel’s fat-and-carb combo, as a little light relief from the prissy platefuls I have to swallow as a restaurant critic? These aren’t criminal acts, but they are things I might not wish anybody to know about. And yet I probably couldn’t get away with them today because somewhere there will be a camera watching me. I suddenly feel like my private space has shrunk and that the Great British Public has allowed it to happen. And I want to know why.”

But at what cost? Doesn’t even seem to stop crime:

“…a major survey of 14 CCTV schemes published last year showed their impact on local crime rates was either negligible or that crime rates actually went up. At the same time fear of crime has also gone up. Meanwhile, clear-up rates – the number of crimes that the police solve – have gone down.”

There’s even a a program to allow everyday people to subscribe to a special CCTV channel, for only a few pounds a week.

“To see the future of CCTV we need to go to Spitalfields in east London, where the Shoreditch Trust, a local regeneration agency, is piloting a new initiative: CCTV for the masses. Instead of the images only being seen by the likes of Norman Whalley and his team, local residents will be able to watch them, too, on a broadband connection.”

It’s justified as you won’t be able to do all the fun stuff the local cops can do (like pan, tilt, zoom, etc.). According to the article, it’s not “big brother”, it’s described as “little brother”.

Except that little brothers grow up.

Article link here.

Alex Eckelberry
(Thanks Chris)


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