Sunday, May 9, 2010

Surveillance Cameras: You Are Never Alone

If George Orwell were alive, what would he write?
"It’s hard to adjust to the idea that cities — New York in particular,and Times Square most of all — are now places where unseen watchers canmonitor your every move." - City Critic, New York Times
And... who knew? The Burlington school board's Policy and Advocacy committee
"is currently writing the district’s policy on the use of surveillance cameras in schools."
(I've not seen any local media coverage about this.) Your tax dollars at work indeed, treating children as criminals. But hell, it's business-as-usual in our schools. The little buggers are groomed anyway, to be passive and unquestioning automatons, to accept being monitored by the surveillance cameras of businesses on Church Street (the major pedestrian shopping district in Burlington).

Look at this ACLU link (my emphasis in bold):

Camera surveillance systems also inevitably raise issues of racial profiling and voyeurism. Everyone has heard of the camera operators who zoom in upon women's breasts or police officers who used infrared video surveillance equipment to watch a couple engaged in romantic activity.

The bottom line is: Are cameras worth the cost in terms of money and civil liberties? Cities and states are still wasting limited security budget dollars on camera surveillance systems. In the last five years, the US Department of Homeland Security had handed out about $300 million in grants for camera surveillance systems. These funds could have gone toward hiring more experienced police officers, improving equipment for first-responders so that they can be ready to help in cases of emergency or other such security needs.

And consider the civil liberty costs of video surveillance systems. Video surveillance technology will only grow more sophisticated. There will come a day when the cameras will be routinely linked with other technologies in attempt to instantly identify you and me via face recognition, RFIDs, or other technologies. Do we want a society where an innocent individual can't walk down the street without being considered a potential criminal? Do we want a society where people are comfortable with constant surveillance?

Recommended video (Quicktime): Its Eyes, filmed on location in New York's Chelsea Market and Harlem - treating "surveillance cameras as a biological organism slowly taking control of our urban space."

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