Philip Hensher has a great commentary on surveillance, privacy, and control in The Independent today, inspired by news that Oxford City Council wants CCTV in taxis. Here are a few excerpts from his piece:
But what balanced means, in this context, is what a three-year-old means by fair on Christmas morning. It means I think I ought to get whatever I want.
The truth is that what is driving these diverse attempts to introduce surveillance, based on such very different social issues, is not any serious attempt to diminish an evil. Most research shows that means of surveillance alone don’t have a cost-effective result in general, and that they often diminish in effectiveness quite quickly over time. There are much simpler, less intrusive, much cheaper remedies which have been shown to have a bigger effect. So what is driving a council to decide to record private conversations, for doctors to propose that the Government should inquire into and prevent a private habit in a private place?
Simply, the desire to control and subjugate. With the mantra that “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”, the authorities have created a world in which it seems normal for some pathetic local authority to record your private conversations, to go through your bins, to inquire into what you do behind your front door in the evening. All we have left is the response that it’s none of your business. I wish there was some less feeble response to this constant, exhausting, draining surveillance we live under.
You can read the full commentary on The Independent.