The Patch

April 7, 2007

Saturday 7th April- Big Brother is watching you

Filed under: Miscellany — Ames @ 2:11 pm

I booked a Visa appointment at the American Embassy the other day. I have to wait ‘up to (and possibly more than) 3 hours’ to tell them that I definitely don’t plan on hiding out in Cinderella’s castle when my job ends, and to get a Visa. I have to pay $100 for the privilege also. Even better: I should not show up with cuts or blisters on my fingers, as fingerprints will be taken for my Visa (a shame, I was planning on going and burning myself on the grill the next time I made a bacon sarnie) . And the icing on the cake… during that 3-4 hours I won’t be allowed ‘any electrical equipment’. Including mp3 players and iPods. Because I can fit a bomb into my clapped out mini iPod… In a post 9/11 age, you come to expect higher levels of security and scrunity, at this rate, we’re heading to fulfill George Orwell’s prophecy before the decade is out. 

For example, the Guardian this week printed an article about how councils are now fitting microphones into their CCTV cameras. Not only can people now keep a close eye on the mean streets of Middlesborough from the comfort of wherever these CCTV cameras are watched… and they can give orders to them, whether this involves telling them to stop attacking the person next to them, or to pick up that piece of litter they just dropped. Incidentally, the scheme has had a huge impact on the amont of litter plaguing the city’s streets; no longer are they swept 6 times a day, but a much more respectable four. So there is a reason to this scheme, proving that we should be perfectly alright at being watched and talked to in this Big-Brother-esque-manner; our streets are clearly benefitting hugely.

I don’t know about anybody else, but this worries me. OK, so CCTV cameras have been around for a long time, and I’ve never had a problem with them. But then I’ve always figured that the person behind the screen would more than likely be looking for major incidents such as street brawls and preventing potential murders. Not telling groups of teenagers to ‘move along’, or asking someone to pick up their litter. The fact that even these minor infringements of what would be considered the social norm are now watched by these hawk-eyes makes me feel nervous. For them to be able to detect a crisp packet on the floor, these people must either have super-hero-esque powers… or be, quite literally, watching our every move. Whatever happened until innocent until proven guilty?

I’m all for safety and security. I understand that, when I’m in a public place I should be aware that I could be caught on camera. What makes me uncomfortable is that, no longer am I an innocent blob on a screen, until they see me take out a gun or something. Now I’m subject to the embarassment of a child’s voice (supposedly less intimidating, I call it patronising) telling me to ‘move along’ should I be caught ‘loitering’, or ordering me to pick up some litter which, as far as they know, could have innocently fallen from my hand. Not that I’m a supporter of litter bugs, but I do think there are less Dysotopian ways of dealing with the problem. Like upping sweeps to six times a day, or posters with a high guilt factor, perhaps depicting a suffocating animal or some other such horrorific image (hey, anti-smoking posters show humans caught by a hook, clearly boundaries can be pushed when it comes to public service style advertising). Infact, give me an empty crisp-packet filled, Chav-ridden street any time of the day. I just want to know that I’m safe, not stalked!



  1. I like it. The safer the environment the better.

    Comment by the Dudemeister — April 7, 2007 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  2. I’m actually really creeped out by the thought of talking cameras. The benefits are great, I suppose if it means we’re safer, but we already live in a country that is heavily surveillanced by CCTV as it is. I struggle to see how talking cameras will make any real difference on crime. If I was a young kid who loitered, I’d probably be really pissed off at being told what to do and would break the camera. This stuff brings out the rebel in me and I’m a good girl.

    Comment by denesha — April 7, 2007 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  3. hey you!

    Comment by the Dudemeister — April 7, 2007 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

  4. Aw dude. I have to do that whole Visa application thing too soon. I shall miss my beloved MP3 player for those 3-4 hours.

    Comment by Thomas Meek — April 7, 2007 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  5. if you dont do anything wrong then you really have nothing to worry about.

    Comment by andy — April 8, 2007 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  6. How many times do I have to say THAT IS NOT HOW LIBERAL DEMOCRACY WORKS before people get it into their heads? It is up to the State to prove your guilt, not you to prove your innocence. We shouldn’t need to “worry” in the first place. THat way lies the slow erosion of our civil liberties.

    Comment by freshlysqueezedcynic — April 8, 2007 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

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