George Orwell, prophet

GeorgeOrwell_Time_cover.jpgLast week the Santa Monica City Council voted on installing surveillance cameras at the Pier and 3rd Street Promenade. Their decision was based in part of what Police Chief James Butts described as a terrorist threat. “Some men were videotaping in a manner that was inconsistent with tourist photography. They were photographing access roads and security structures.” (source:

While the effectiveness of this security technique is questionable, what really worries me is what surveillance camera advocates in Chicago are saying about expanding the technique into private businesses by requiring them in some clubs and bars:

“The safer we make the city, the better it is for everyone,” says Chicago Alderman Ray Suarez, who first proposed mandatory cameras in some businesses. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?” (emphasis mine)

(from USA Today, pic from Wikipedia)

4 thoughts on “George Orwell, prophet”

  1. Ick… Ask the kids at Metroblogging London how they feel about this. It’s pretty common over there, no? I certainly don’t feel entirely comfortable having every minute of my life on video tape however.

  2. So now it’s a threat to record images “in a manner that was inconsistent with tourist photography”? WTF?!? Think of all those Flickr groups of manhole covers and other bits of oddball civic infrastructure. Are we all terrrrists now? Such BS. Really scary how the “our job is hard” excuse is being used to usurp our rights.

    BoingBoing has a post about how folks should start posting images of cops breaking laws, any law no matter how trivial. I mean, if they aren’t doing anything wrong they’ll have nothing to worry about, right?

  3. I read that in 2003 the average American was videotaped 12 times a day. In the ATM drive thru, in line at McDonld’s, in the Target parking lot, at the gate checkpoint entering a studio, on and on. It’s scary.

    It occurs to me that public video surveillance will follow the maxim of having a gun in your home – it is more likely to be used on you by those you think you are protecting youself against.

    I hate it, gives me the creeps. I don’t do anything wrong and I’m freaked out enough by America sitting around watching Law & Order, CSI and all those forensics shows. Video, DNA, fingerprints, I just want my privacy, but I guess that’s a thing of the past.

    And is there anything “consistent” about tourist photography? A Danish couple asked if they could take a picture with me because they thought I was Oliver Platt! I’ll take that as a compliment, God help me…

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