CCTV Nation — Security at What Cost?

December 30 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

cctv.jpgA lot of people keep telling me that if one has nothing to hide, then why worry about wire-taps or security cameras?  If you're not planning to rob a bank or kidnap a spoiled celebrity then you should be fine, right?

I have to admit, that argument is pretty solid.  I don't plan on doing anything like kidnapping rich kids (at least until the economy gets worse) so I shouldn't worry.  But the real issue here is privacy.  Humans love privacy, and yet we're afraid of just about everything.  Finding a balance between the two can be difficult at times and rarely easy.  You might not be doing something illegal that would cause you to fear security cameras, but think again.

Chances are you've done something that could be construed as illegal and fined.  Not coming to a full stop at stop signs lands you a ticket for every mistake.  Urinating in public when you're coming home from the bars at 2am could land you an indecency ticket and possible jail time.  Any prank you've ever pulled from toilet papering a house to stealing a road sign would be prosecuted (for those that notice these crimes are kinda specific examples, I've never TP'd a house, it's a waste of paper).

Someone will always be watching and to think that minor offenses will be ignored is naive since cities are always looking for new sources of revenue.  And as it becomes clear that the cameras don't actually prevent any crime (London has 1.5 million CCTV cameras and bombings still happen) people will rely more and more on security cameras which do more.  Facial recognition is the next step, following people from camera to camera, tracking their paths.  Your entire path from when you leave your house to when you finally return is on record.  Great for Alzheimers patients, but I think I'll pass.

I prefer a world where I can enjoy anonymity and freedom to do silly things like hit golf balls off my front lawn, or drop water balloons from a parking garage, or streak on campus.  Would I like to find out who broke into my car?  Yes.  But not at the cost of killing my privacy.

What do you think about privacy?

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