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Big brother is watching me

By Andree Toonk | May 18, 2007

police camera UtrechtTwo weeks ago I walked out of my door going to work and noticed something new in my street. Then I noticed that my street now was being monitored by our local police force. My new neighbor is a surveillance camera!  

Surveillance cameras supposedly “prevent,” “fight” or “reduce” crime.  I don’t know the exact numbers, but I assume they are probably helping in reducing crime. However, we should think about the price we are paying for that, i.e. our privacy!
One of the arguments I often hear is, I do not mind those cameras, because I don’t have anything to hide or to be afraid of. Well I got news for you! you do have to be afraid of something: surveillance cameras in public places are colliding  with our  precious privacy rights. Surveillance cameras seem to be placed everywhere nowadays and I sometimes wonder if there’s actually a real purpose for all of them. Could it be that the police is just installing them because they think it’s in interesting position, or do they actually have good reasons? In the past decade, successive UK governments have installed over 1.5 million cameras in response to terrorist bombings. The average Londoner is estimated to have their picture recorded more than three hundred times a day. How about my privacy?

police-cameraIn The Netherlands some of those cameras are able to move around, focus, and lately I heard of an experiment with camera’s that are equipped with microphones. This enables them to detect aggressive situations. The newest versions even talk back to you. So in a short time we moved from passive monitoring to more active monitoring. And that’s one of the things which bothers me the most, every year they go one step further. It starts with test, those are always successful and then the new technology will be used everywhere. This is a process which will proceed for the next years, where does it stop? What do you think?

What do they do with the recorded tapes?  Is my privacy guaranteed? Are they sure it’s not leaked to the ‘evil’ outside world?  I just did a quick search for police cameras in my hometown on youtube.com. Guess what? A fight was recorded by police cameras and somehow ended up on the Internet: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=utrecht+%2B+politie+camera&search=Search

No, I do not having anything to hide from the government or the police force, but does that mean they should be able to follow my every footstep?

Topics: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Big brother is watching me”

  1. Roel Says:
    May 20th, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    I fully agree with you. We have to be very careful with giving up our privacy. With the rate that governments around the world are now implementing surveillance equipment in our lives (online as well as offline) we are loosing our privacy completely in a matter of years!
    We should have an EU wide discussion about this.

  2. Robbie Says:
    May 21st, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Andree and Roel,

    I think this is a topic that has two sides. In area’s where the safety isn’t garanteed for everyone, those camera’s could help, but those area’s have to be given a certain status before camera’s can be placed. Then it is not possible to place a camera in every corner of holland. This should be a topic for a referendum what the policy of the dutch goverment will be!

    About privacy online….whit the internet growing and the USA getting more and more suspicius every move we make on the internet is followed I believe… Maybe we should go back to smoke signs ;)

    Andree..another nice blog!



  3. Michel Says:
    June 6th, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I agree with Rob. I think that public camera’s are very useful, because a few months ago the police have arrested two men who have beaten up a man in a small alley in the centre of Arnhem. In this case the videotape was broadcasted by national television and eventually ended up on the internet. However, the victim and other bystanders where made unrecognizable, only the perpetrators were visible.
    Most people think that the police are authorized to publish surveillance tapes, but that is not true. Every kind of recording, distribution or broadcasting of surveillance tapes needs approval by the court of law, the judge. Even if it’s privately! (Well, who is verifying this?)
    Anyway, on this moment we have to trust de ministry of justice, but for in the future… Beware; you never know who is watching you!