Oooof. I’m hardly the first to link this one, but it deserves as wide a propagation as it can get. Houston’s police chief is proposing the installation of surveillance cameras in apartment buildings, neighbourhood streets, shops and even private homes. Houston suffers from a lack of sufficient law-enforcement staff, a problem exacerbated by the large number of people rehoused there after being made homeless by Katrina.
Okay, so it’s understandable, if a trifle scary. But according to the afore-mentioned chief of police, we shouldn’t be frightened:
“I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?”
The irony here, of course, is that only someone who hasn’t read (or at least hasn’t understood) Orwell’s ‘1984’ could possibly make such a statement; one that could be a bit of dialogue from the book itself. I’m sure the guy has the best interests of his city at heart, but these sorts of programs leave a leash-and-collar lying around for any totalitarian government to pick up whenever they feel like it. The current US administration would probably think little of using such cameras for more than law-enforcement; they don’t seem to mind bending the rules about telephonic communication to spy on their own citizens, after all.
And living in a country that has more cameras per capita than any other, a country that is now planning to keep motorists under constant surveillance at all times on the road (strictly to make taxation fair, you understand), I’d hate to think what might happen here if similar schemes came in. But of course, I’m innocent, so I have nothing to worry about – it’s not illegal to write dissenting diatribe about your government on the internet.