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Hoist by their own petard…

September 28, 2009

I always enjoy stories where those who advocate surveillance and say things like ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ are then caught by surveillance (see for example, this story). In the first place, it shows how bogus and hypocritical that insidious argument is, but in the second place, it can be just really funny. So this week’s amusing surveillance story is provided by a local TV story posted on YouTube, which supposedly shows a team of Lakehead, Florida, cops who were supposed to be raiding the house of suspected drug-dealer, indulging in a nine-hour Nintendo Wii bowlathon… all caught on the householder’s home CCTV system – and now spreading virally all over the world. Ooops…

There are serious issues here though. Of course there is the whole question of 4th Ammendment violation (if you are in the USA), but more generally it raises the question of whether the use of surveillance can itself become a method of resistance to surveillance and of holding the state, private corporations, and indeed other citizens, to account, or whether a society of mutual and reciprocal surveillance (or a ‘transparent society’, as David Brin called it) is one in which we want to live. As surveillance becomes more and more ubiquitous, and in the absense of mass citizen movements to tear down the cameras, it sometimes seems like the only option we have left.

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