Monday, October 11, 2010

I See You, Part 3

JSAllen linked to this article in the comment section of my last post and I thought I would put it on the front page. It recounts innovative surveillance tactics being used in Britain.

Here's a snippet:
The service works by employing an army of registered armchair snoopers who watch hours of CCTV footage from cameras in stores and high street venues across the country.

Viewers can win up to 1,000 pounds ($1,600) in cash a month from Devon-based firm Internet Eyes, which distributes the streaming footage, when offenders are caught in the act.

The scheme immediately drew criticism from civil liberties campaigners who say it is more evidence that Britain has become a "Big Brother" surveillance society with CCTV on every corner.

Participants, who pay a fee to subscribe, press an "alert" button which relays an instant text message notifying a shop keeper of suspicious behavior. The SMS is followed up with a photographic image of the potential crime.
Founder of Internet Eyes, Tony Morgan, says the scheme puts shop owners back in control of security and allows local communities to tackle crime and anti-social behavior.
Welcome the new, citizen-based Gestapo to the 21st Century!

**Update**

I was thinking about this more and was just wondering how long it will take criminals to pay for this service and use it case businesses, use as a "lookout" tool for their crimes, or obtain personal information for identity theft, or stalk people in their own neighborhoods.

If I can think of all the criminal ways that this could be put to use, imagine what a really ingenious criminal could do with this information.

3 comments:

DH said...

There's a city here in the United States, I think, that has a system like this. The community networked together a disparate system of CCTV systems to provide a comprehensive view of what was going on at any point in time. According to the article I read, if I remember correctly, instead of an outcry about the violation of privacy and civil liberties, the community actually celebrated the system, the cooperation that created it, and the resultant drop in crime that resulted.

While trying to find the original article, I found this interesting government article on the topic from California from 13 years ago - http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/05/

DH said...

Another interesting article in the same vein - http://www.rutherford.org/articles_db/commentary.asp?record_id=679.

And another perspective from a community with a surveillance system - http://standardspeaker.com/news/surveillance-cameras-a-success-in-mahanoy-city-1.1033473.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Welcome to the fishbowl. I wonder how our cultural norms will change in response to being able to learn a whole lot about just about anyone with little effort. As if we all now live in an apartment building with thin walls.