Anorak News | The Streets Have Eyes

The Streets Have Eyes

by | 5th, April 2007

IT is truly staggering I think, the manner in which creeping surveillance and the infrastructure for a genuine Orwellian nightmare is so casually implemented by the Government.

The news that the experiment of CCTV systems which have operators that can talk to through speaker systems in Middlesborough is coming to London is such an example.

We are told by the politicians and Home Secretary that our fears about civil liberties are unfounded. That it is only people who have done things wrongs that should fear the move. This fallacy is now the standard line in fact from anyone in Government. Nothing to fear, nothing to hide.

The problem, as I have said before, is that the argument misrepresents the matter of civil liberties. The issue against these systems is actually about autonomy over ourselves. Where we are, and where we go, is something that we decide as individuals. Crucially though the state exists because of us, not despite of us. The widespread use of CCTV – which has made us the most watched country in the world – has shifted that relationship in a fundamental way.

The increase now of CCTV systems in which operators can talk to those they are watching with a booming voice on loud speakers, introduces another shift in our relationship with the state. More importantly it is another piece of technology pitched in the isolation of its supposed benefits without consideration of the total infrastructure we are building.

Democracy is a delicate thing, simply because we have managed to maintain it here does not mean that we cannot possibly become something else which is much darker in a moment. A piece of bad legislation, like the Regulatory Powers Act which was proposed a year or so ago could still be introduced which would provide some future, yet to be determined tyrant, withthe ability to take over.

John Reid may say that these CCTV systems will help fight crime, but before we mess with our liberties we should make them always subject to the Stalin test. Would Stalin have liked the technology we are implementing? Would he have found it useful? If the answer is yes then to proceed anyway whilst saying “it could never happen here” is simply folly.

How long is it before we find ourselves being told that in order to tackle obesity we must all take part in physical exercise organised by those in CCTV control centres watching and counting our aerobics? When the reality starts to imitate the dystopian world of literature we should start to worry and be very vocal about it.


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Posted: 5th, April 2007 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink