Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ethics: Big Brother is watching you!

I stumbled accross this website last night looking for stuff on cctv style cameras to help us with our device design and a quick read through it reminded me of the morals lecture and stuff I've thought about CCTV cameras for a long time, though I am not a thug and would not carry out the suggestions on the site!

This website is a bit of fun though, it's all about the various ways to destroy a CCTV camera, all tested of course. I personally hate the Big Brother effect of CCTV because for me it has never changed anything. I have never seen CCTV prevent crime, reduce crime, nor help people suffering crime as they are suffering it, the only time the camera becomes effective is when it makes someone money.

For example, me and a friend were up at New street a few weeks back taking pictures of various things around city centre and one of our first stops was the bull ring, now there were plenty of activities happening around us that interfered with people shopping but within 5 minutes of the CCTV seeing us with cameras the bull ring security staff were breathing down our necks asking if we had passes to take photos and because we didn't we had to get off the bull ring land and would have to wait until the next day to get a photo pass from the marketing office should we wish to take pictures of any part of the bull ring, and from what I have read we are not alone in what we encountered, the only thing you are allowed to take a picture of is Bully.

Now, don't get me wrong I've seen cameras used very effectively on roads for motoring crimes but they have not been even half as successful in public areas, people my argue with me on this one saying they have provided good evidence in court after the crime but all I have to say to this is, these cameras were sold to the public as a method of preventing and detecting crime in the first place, not its aftermath, it too late then. Also, it will be 13 years this year since James Bulger was brutally murdered, he would have been 15 now, CCTV watched him walk out of the shopping centre with people different to those he walked in with, yet did it help him? I think him not making past the age of 2 tells us how useful CCTV was for him.

Also, there is another reason I hate the Big Brother effect, its not because I'm paranoid or I have anything to hide, its because every camera eventually ends up being an excuse for less cops on the street, and if you ask anyone in any defence organisation from the police to the army they will tell you that your presence puts the fear into people and makes the difference, not a secret, hidden away intelligence system. A person in the uniform with the baton, cs spray, handcuffs and the walkie talkie that says "try anything my friend and one click of this button and 10 of my colleagues will be helping me stop the misery you cause, with extreme pain to yourself if necessary" will always be a better deterrent than some officer sat in a chair miles away where no one can see them.



At 10 February, 2006 00:18, Blogger Femma Ashraf said...

I know what you mean. I particularly hate speed cameras, mainly because i'm watching my speedometer when I hit them as opposed to the road.

At 10 February, 2006 01:15, Blogger Mark Rowan said...

Ah no, haven't you heard? Speed cameras are now called "safety cameras "as they Make the Roads Safer (you can argue for or against that one all you like).

As for the Big Brother CCTV effect, I refer you to a post I did for HCI1:

At 10 February, 2006 01:16, Blogger Mark Rowan said...

That URL again, for those not keeping up at the back (namely me):
Big Brother is watching you


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