As fast as technology grows, “blind spots” diminish just as fast. Especially in first world countries, it is becoming harder and harder to stay out of sight of a camera at any given moment. Traffic cameras, security cameras, private surveillance cameras, even Ring doorbells are just a few methods of surveillance in a technological age. Even as I type this on my laptop, which has its own camera that I do not have on myself, I am more than confident that somebody somewhere is watching me. That is the issue with a world full of cameras, it is that anyone anywhere can watch you. It is foolish to believe that only authorized personnel can access traffic or security cameras, or that only the owners can watch the footage of a Ring Doorbell. This fact also negates the biggest “defense” for constant video surveillance that I hear – “if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about”. This defense is utter crap if I am being completely honest. My concerns are not with the government or private individual that sees their own footage – my concerns are with the potential malicious third party watching halfway across the world. The biggest threats in today’s world are not found on a map, they do not have national borders, they hide in the shadows. The growing prevalence of surveillance cameras of all types is doing not much more than giving them power in the long run. It is terabytes on terabytes every millisecond of knowledge just waiting to find it’s way into the wrong hands, and I do not need to explain to you why knowledge is power.
I often hear the defense of video camera surveillance as protection, and sure. It provides a layer of security from burglars and home intruders, absolutely. It can also help law enforcement track down dangerous criminals on the run, and keep us accountable. If it’s the middle of the night and we see a red light with nobody around, we will be less likely to say “screw it” if we know there is a camera right there. I am not saying video surveillance is entirely bad. On the contrary, it can do a lot of good. It is, however, a double edged sword. It is a dangerous and potentially devastating tool, provided we keep viewing it with this shroud of ignorance that we currently have.
Wake up. There is always somebody watching.