Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big Brother is Watching You

"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face...; was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..."

George Orwell, 1984, Chapter 5

Someone posted the above photo on Facebook. As far as I'm aware, it's 100% genuine rather than a Photoshop job. What Orwell have thought of CCTV cameras is a moot point (or what he would have thought of the TV show Big Brother, come to think of it).
Indeed, it's somewhat ironic that in the country which birthed Orwell and Huxley - those two English masters of the dystopia - "there are reportedly more cameras per person than in any other country in the world". Admittedly I'm being lazy and using Wikipedia to find that fact - but it citates as its source this Guardian article, the contents of which I have no reason to disbelieve. And then there's these jawdropping facts:

A 2008 Report by UK. Police Chiefs concluded that only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV.[22] In London, a Metropolitan Police report showed that in 2008 only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras.

So, leaving aside the use of CCTV cameras for recording traffic infringements, that still means that 999 CCTV cameras out of every 1000 in London achieved absolutely bugger all in 2008 - four years ago, admittedly, but still a shocking statistic. And that, despite the enormous amount of money that's been spent on them, 97% of all crimes in that year weren't solved by CCTV. More depressing still is the fact Germany has far less CCTV cameras and yet still has a lower crime rate than the UK. Now that is something worth thinking about...

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