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Behind the cameras

April 23, 2009

While the vast majority of those monitoring CCTV screens are probably decent people who stick within the legal and ethical guidelines (such as they are), it is worth remembering that pervasive surveillance offers unprecedented opportunities to perverts, stalkers and sex offenders. This is not just secret cameras set up by weirdo voyeurs, it is the people who work with CCTV. This was noted by Clive Norris and collaborators back in the 1990s in Britain in their work on control rooms when they reported on operators making private tapes of women they saw in the street. Yesterday, The Daily Telegraph reported on a case in the US, where two FBI agents spied on girls changing for a charity fashion show for the underprivileged. They have been charged with criminal violation of privacy, which I am glad to see is a crime in the US. But, don’t forget that behind the cameras, if there is anyone these days, is a human being and that human being has as many flaws and secret desires as anyone else.

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