Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|1984 18 years late?|
|02/09/02 at 19:52:50|
I picked this article of th BBC website. The paragraph i've highlighted in red took my mind straight back to the opening scene in Orwell's 1984. And to make the claustrophobic feeling worse i just watched 'Enemy of the State' on TV this evening....
Watching your every move
The vision of cameras watching your every move is close to becoming a
reality, with analysts predicting a tenfold increase in CCTV in the UK
in the next five years.
The business of surveillance is about to undergo a radical shift as
digital cameras become commonplace. Even now, CCTV is the ever-present
eye in shopping centres, railway stations and airports and it is most
definitely wapching you.
According to statistics, the average citizen is caught on CCTV cameras
300 times a day.
There are 25 million CCTV cameras in operation worldwide, with 2.5
million in the UK.
Impact of digital
In Reading town centre alone, there are 327 CCTV cameras, a handful on
the street, 140 in the shopping centre and 161 in the main carpark.
And the chances of getting caught on camera are set to rise,
particularly with the use of digital CCTV.
While analogue cameras have limited range and carry a less-than-perfect
image, digital cameras will be able to record more and in better
"Analogue only records about 5% of what is going on, whereas digital
systems can record everything and there is no deterioration in the
quality," explains Oliver Vellacott, the head of IndigoVison, makers of surveillance systems.
Digital cameras can also be networked together, something not possible
with analogue because the signal has to be sent along a dedicated line
and can travel no further than about 170 kilometres (100 miles).
Mr Vellacott predicts a scenario where digital cameras are all-pervasive
- not just in streets but in all public spaces.
"This opens up the debate about whether the public cameras should be
open to the public so that everyone sees as much as everyone else and
this would turn the idea of Big Brother on its head," he says.
Reduction of crime?
The UK Government is convinced of the benefits of CCTV. Hugh Marriage,
the Home Office's crime reduction officer for the south-east of England,
says it definitely reduces crime.
"There is no doubt about the benefits.
"It tends to move offenders elsewhere so in a town centre with a good
surveillance system you will still get some level of drug dealing for
instance, but shoplifting will be eliminated because there are no shops
outside of the area with the cameras," he explains.
Not all criminologists agree with this view. A comprehensive study of
the impact of CCTV in Glasgow found no evidence it reduced crime or the
fear of crime.
The government's interest in CCTV is not just about crime prevention,
though. It also saves money.
A court hearing with a guilty verdict saves around £3,000 to £5,000,"
said Mr Marriage. "And CCTV pictures means there have been an enormous
increase in guilty verdicts."
There is a huge difference between cameras on the streets and having
them intrude into our homes in true Orwellian style.
People now, rightly or wrongly "expect" to be watched in public spaces.
But would they raise objections if the surveillance were extended to
their private spaces?
Big Brother has already become mainstream as thousands of folk queue up
to take part in and watch Channel 4's hugely successful TV show.
Watching other people in their homes has become something of a national
The Big Brother vision is not just a TV gimmick. Many homes are already
hooked up to CCTV and firms are increasingly selling the benefits of spy
cameras to check up on the nanny from the comfort of your desk.
[color=red]In the future, homes will be fitted with surveillance cameras as
standard, says Mr Vellacott. It will be driven by insurance firms and
the desire to keep an eye on your property, he believes.[/color]
"Then the issues of privacy get really thorny. There will be secure
access to home cameras but the concern will be that nothing is foolproof
from hackers," he points out.
A world networked to CCTV could mean a more transparent society, with
public access to large corporations and government offices.
Already in France there are public webcams in nuclear plants to reassure
citizens that the work going on is safe and above board.
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