Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Less Security, Not More

Residents of a trendy London neighbourhood are to become the first in Britain to receive "Asbo TV” -- television beamed live to their homes from CCTV cameras on the surrounding streets.

As part of the £12m scheme funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, residents of Shoreditch in the East End will also be able to compare characters they see behaving suspiciously with an on-screen "rogues' gallery" of local recipients of anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos).

Viewers will then be able to use an anonymous e-mail tip-off system to report to the police anyone they see breaching an Asbo or committing a crime.

This type of scheme is ultimately why ubiquitous surveillance bothers me. If government would guarantee that they would never, ever modify surveillance beyond using it to solve and deter crimes, we could have an honest argument about whether it was necessary or not. Unfortunately, government cannot make such assurances – government officials can (and will) use the surveillance for personal gain. Private interests, such as those outlined above – will use the surveillance for personal gain. And in the meantime you have no idea what this information is being used for and by whom.

Personally, I would rather have a little higher risk of crime than know for certain that someone is watching me trying to figure out how to turn a profit on my actions.

Update: Coincidently, Russell Roberts over at Cafe Hayek talks about subsidies today. The quotes from George Will dovetail my points nicely.

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