Wednesday, December 27, 2006

'Big Brother' Coming Near You Soon!

The British have chosen the path of technology when it comes to fighting crime – something you might have expected in America instead - but that choice comes with a price.
Camera videos (called
Close Circuit TV or CCTV) have made their way into people’s daily lives. Not only do they record the facts to be used after the crime, but they also spot "anti-social acts" by talking to people who behave badly – whatever that means.

Now the whole process has finally come to its logical conclusion and indeed, Big Brother is just a bit closer to home:

This is the true story of a guy who made a simple withdraw at an ATM*, but he happened to do right where a thief had used a stolen card just before him. Because he was “caught” on CCTV taking money out of the ATM, he was thought to be an accomplice by the police. Even though he showed the records of his bank account to explain the error, he was arrested and questioned by the police for hours. He was eventually bailed but the story does not end there.
The police released the footage they had of him to a TV station (Granada TV) and it went out on their program “Crimefile” the next day. As a result the poor man was suspended by his boss! Even though he was eventually able to cleared his name, he was traumatized. No kidding!

Here’s the details of the story in The Register, with a sensible comment in the end:

Just last weekend, a long feature in the Sunday Times went into this very scenario of innocent people being caught up in a web because data is accumulated so fast that people automatically assume guilt.
As you may know, the UK is currently the most monitored place in the entire world. There isn't a street in London where you can't be picked up on CCTV cameras. The rest of the country is much the same.
And this is only the beginning....

*NOTE: by the way, I do not know why so many people say "ATM machine", since ATM stands for "Automatic Teller Machine" already....


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