About UsResearchOpportunities
PublicationsResourcesSite Map
 

Government watchtowers looming over Canadian suburbs

Next watchtower is only a few hundred feet away

Whether you're shoveling snow off your sidewalk, or sunbathing by your backyard pool, the Canadian government has the potential to watch from on high.

Other governments also like the ubiquitous surveillance afforded by roadside surveillance cameras.

A recent New York Times article shows that Big Brother is popular among the British police. It is kind of ironic that these police, who want to know what everyone is up to, spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity.

The New York Times article presents the cameras in a positive light, failing to report on the negative feelings of many Liverpool residents. (As a point of comparison, kudos to the Boston Globe for presenting a recent article Video-aided arrest raises privacy questions stressing the importance of privacy considerations, even though the article was with respect to a murder that was recently solved on account of video surveillance, which is the kind of ammunition that proponents of surveillance call upon.)

The Chinese government routinely recorded the output of "traffic cameras" and used these recordings to later round up and jail people who participated in peaceful marches. Peaceful demonstrators in Poland were also rounded up using images from cameras at road intersections.

Using wide disemenation of personal information to enhance privacy

What can be done about these cameras. While traditional privacy advocates might argue that the data should be secure (e.g. that they are okay if the data is kept secure), my point of view is that the data should be made public. By making the image data freely available to all, the cameras benefit all. For example, while driving down the road, I might check to see the traffic conditions one mile ahead, five miles ahead, ten miles ahead, etc -- displaying roadvideo on my car's display console. Furthermore, by making the data public, we will not become complacent -- we will retain the hightened sense of awareness of exactly what information is being collected about us. At first, this idea might seem strange, but after thinking about it more, it might become apparent why privacy advocates sometimes do more to harm the cause of privacy than to help it! There are two kinds of overtness: acquisitional overtness (how obvious the camera is) and disemenational overtness (how obvious the video signal from the camera is). Look at the relationship between acquisitional overtness and disseminational overtness.
Privacy issues of wearable cameras versus surveillance cameras.