The Worries Of Surveillance​

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.

One thought on “The Worries Of Surveillance​

  1. I am also conflicted with the topic of surveillance this week. In “The Dark Knight” (an example I’ve been using a lot this week), Batman made a machine that taps into every Gotham citizens cell phone with the implementation of Lucius Fox’s sonar technology. In this scenario, Batman can be seen to resemble the government. Both use it for their own agenda. The government to help prevent future criminal and terrorist’s attack and Batman to locate a high-profiled criminal with hundreds of hostages. We all care about security and our wellbeing. However, is there a line where safety cannot intrude our right of privacy and liberty. Surveillance has proved to have caught evidence of wrongdoings but it has also spied on citizens in their daily life. Surveillance is a power that means so much more than security to some people. Our government may prioritize safety, but they would not shy away from reaching more into our personal lives if it meant it could possible lead to unusual activities. There is an ongoing joke that people say online that they hope their FBI agent is watching them through the phone or on their phone in the middle of on unusual situation. It’s funny but scary at the same time, knowing that people realize that they are being monitored and being okay with it. Batman is seen by Fox as a control freak. With the machine, surveillance has tapped into millions of citizens phone making them his personal microphone. Why Fox believes this is wrong is for two reasons. The invasion of privacy and the potential it might fall into the wrong hands. In the movie, Batman knew that Fox would disagree and handed the machine to Fox. All Fox had to do was type in his name and the machine would self-destruct. Most people with that amount of power wouldn’t easily let go of such a machine. My question for you is this: Should our government be like Batman? If the surveillance controlled by agencies in the government are compromised, how should we as the people handle it?

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