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The Road to Big Brother 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
brothke writes "In The Road to Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society, Ross Clark journals his struggles to avoid the myriad CCTV cameras in his native England. That's difficult given the millions of cameras in public locations there. Before going forward, the use of the term 'Big Brother' in both the title and throughout the book is erroneous. Big Brother has its roots in George Orwell's novel 1984 and refers to an omnipresent, seemingly benevolent figure representing the oppressive control over individual lives exerted by an authoritarian government. The term has been misappropriated to describe everything from legitimate crime-fighting, to surveillance cameras, to corporate e-mail and network usage monitoring. Localities that deploy CCTV cameras in public thoroughfares in the hope of combating crime are in no way indicative of the oppressive control of Orwell's Big Brother. Should we be concerned that such a scenario play itself out in Ross Clark's UK or in the US? Likely no, as US government agencies are widely decentralized and isolated. Just getting the networks within a single federal agency unified is a daunting task; getting all of the agencies to have a single unified data sharing mechanism is a pipe-dream. Look at it this way: the US Department of Defense has more networks than some countries have computers." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
The Road to Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society
author Ross Clark
pages 200
publisher Encounter Books
rating Powerful topic, but poor delivery and answers.
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-1594032486
summary One man's account of how to dodge Britain's million of CCTV cameras and other forms of surveillance
The Road to Big Brother details Clark's attempt to be invisible to the millions of CCTV cameras in Britain, and details other types of national & agency databases and how they can be misused. Clark notes astutely that while much data is being gathered, often the most important clues are missed, and a lack of proportion often is the result.

Some of the books observations are flawed. In chapter two, Clark writes that VeriChip markets its RFID chips with the aim of speeding the passage of authorized people through security checks. But its Verimed chip is made for patient identification and emergency patient management in hospitals. In Chapter 11, Clark comments that Facebook is essentially a forum for drunken college students who cannot conceive that any harm could come from disporting themselves in semi-naked poses for everyone to see. There is no indication that the comment was meant to be humorous, and there are many legitimate sober uses for Facebook.

Perhaps the worst distortion of the Big Brother hysteria, of which the book provides no source, is the claim that the CIA and FBI appears to know what airline meals a person chooses when they cross the Atlantic. Terrorists do their best to be stealthy, and will likely opt to bring their own special meal, rather than stand out and request a special one. It is not clear what the CIA and FBI hope to gain with such data.

The book documents numerous CCTV failures, from Brighton, England to Baltimore, Maryland. Chapter 3 has a 2005 quote from the Maryland Attorney General stating that CCTV's had yet to solve a single crime. The book also repeats the problem of fuzzy CCTV images and highlights other technology failures as far back as 1998. Surveillance technology has significantly advanced in the last 3 years, let alone decade. Focusing on failures from a decade ago is in no way indicative of the state of the art, nor does it do anything to solve the problem Clark addresses.

In the last 60 days alone, CCTV has been used to identify the alleged Craigslist Killer and shooter at Wesleyan University. While Clark may not realize it, CCTV and other related technologies has indeed revolutionized law enforcement. The underlying problem is that Britain's millions of cameras were deployed in the hope that they could magically solve crime. Cameras alone achieve nothing; but CCTV combined with trained humans and other crime prevention and detection methods are a powerful set of tools that many police departments are embracing.

The book notes that two CCTV schemes were sold to UK police in 2001 with the premise that they would eliminate crime and increase the number of visitors by 225,000 a year. Any police department that would believe such a marketing claim, without pilot testing and proof of concept should themselves be arrested for ineptitude.

The book would be better off quoting this year's CCTV successes, rather than those of obsolete equipment. As to the fuzzy image problem; newer, more powerful and often inexpensive cameras easily and quickly solves that predicament.

All is not lost on the book. Chapter 8 — Me and My ID, in which Clark documents how ineffective national identification cards are. National ID cards are all the rage and are being deployed in the hope that they will reduce terrorism, illegal immigration and other of society's ills. Clark notes that even if national ID cards were able to identify everyone correctly, and that is a huge assumption, it is still not clear what they would achieve. National ID's have been touted to reduce insurance fraud, but medical insurance fraud is often executed not by false identification, rather by patients lying about their circumstances.

The book touches upon, but does not really answer, nor go into enough details on why people allow such pervasive use of electronic surveillance technologies to seamlessly enter society. Be it CCTV cameras that film public parks or attempt to catch speeding drivers; many are deployed with little to no protestations.

While Big Brother achieved oppressive control over individuals, the real danger of surveillance systems is that they can easily be misused. Rather than achieving their crime fighting goals, they will mislead police with myriad false positives. Part of Clark's frustration is likely that the UK Police believe in some sort of CCTV Kool-Aid that their collogues in the US have not consumed. Why that is so prevalent in the UK is something that Clark doesn't address.

The Road to Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society should have been a book that details the problems with a surveillance society, but often reads like it emanates from the ministry of misinformation.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase The Road to Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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The Road to Big Brother

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  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:15PM (#27911321) Homepage Journal
    Keep an eye on these [nsmsurveillance.com] guys. Their Citywide Solutions [nsmsurveillance.com] page is especially creepy. Other products include mobile snoops [nsmsurveillance.com] and party vans. [nsmsurveillance.com]

    From an article [sandiegoreader.com] in the San Diego Reader:

    Last week in a Spring Valley business park, a tower nearly 100 feet tall sprang up seemingly overnight...I approached three men, dressed as though they might be engineers, who were standing in the parking lot outside NSM Surveillance on Via Orange Way. When I asked them what the tower was for, one of them responded with the joke, "We can't tell you. We'd have to kill you."...By Wednesday afternoon the tower had disappeared.

    Though that particular product was probably just a communications tower, the article describes how easy it is to set up an Orwellian society, especially with a systems integrator such as NSM Surveillance.

    • Yes, all those links are somewhat "creepy". But even creepier is that someone thinks all of this is a good (great??) idea!

      The problem is some lawyer somewhere is suing some city for not having a camera on every corner because some bad thing happened to someone somewhere. They will frame the need in terms like "high crime rate" and such, saying the city should have been monitoring the area with surveillance equipment.

      And some other lawyer will be protesting the setup suggested above as an invasion of privacy

      • The problem is some lawyer somewhere is suing some city for not having a camera on every corner because some bad thing happened to someone somewhere. They will frame the need in terms like "high crime rate" and such, saying the city should have been monitoring the area with surveillance equipment.
        And some other lawyer will be protesting the setup suggested above as an invasion of privacy, big brother etc.

        No matter what happens, the lawyers always come out on top. Ain't seeing any layoffs or downsizing in their profession.

    • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Monday May 11, 2009 @10:16PM (#27916875)

      See everyone thinks that 1984 is about Big Brother, Thought Police, and telescreens. It is not.

      Yes, 1984 is about the erosion of self-expression, but those tools are only a means, not the end. The end is the stupification of society through the destruction of language and the altering of history. When you destroy the human faculty of expression through the use of DoubleThink and DoubleSpeak, then you can exercise control of not just the masses, but individuals. Those 'other things' are just a net to cull those who see through the charade.

      Look at Big Media. If you're really looking for someone to lynch, it ought to be them. They can feed you bigger lies that stink more than any cockamamie the government can give, if only because we're so willing to feed upon it.

      • by AP31R0N (723649)

        It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
        - George Orwell

        This is part of why i'm a "grammar snob". i'm resisting the dumbing down of language and expression itself.

        That said....

        It amazes me how egocentric and paranoid people are to think that the gov't car

  • by Dripdry (1062282) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:23PM (#27911439) Journal

    Even worse than Big Brother would be what is described in the summary: A set of decentralized agencies full of politics/bureaucracy that have rules with little or no unification and no compassion or human oversight. Suddenly, instead of a force seeking only power there is a "force" that is simply a mass of rules and surveillance with the illusion of trying to control when in fact it only creates massive inconvenience for people ala Brazil.

    Basically: Given the choice I would almost rather be imprisoned/watched by an entity with an agenda rather than a decentralized, inept morass of bureaucracy. I fear that is what we are moving toward, however. See Red Light Cameras as an example.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Acer500 (846698)

      Basically: Given the choice I would almost rather be imprisoned/watched by an entity with an agenda rather than a decentralized, inept morass of bureaucracy. I fear that is what we are moving toward, however. See Red Light Cameras as an example.

      Hmm... I'm really not sure (I'd prefer neither), but I think Frank Herbert would have chosen the former... do we need a Bureau of Sabotage now? Paging Jorj X. McKie :)

    • by rbanffy (584143)

      "in fact it only creates massive inconvenience for people ala Brazil."

      Please specify "Brazil, the movie" or "Terry Gilliam's Brazil". My government certainly inconvenience me, but the overall situation is nowhere near the mess you describe ;-)

  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:26PM (#27911485) Journal
    Some book reviewer really woke up on the "sniveling apologist bootlicker for incipient fascism" side of the bed this morning.
    • by ivanmarsh (634711)

      No kidding. Let's wait 'till they REALLY start oppressing us before we start taking any of it seriously. Obviously he hasn't read 1984... once it's too late, it's too late. 2+2=

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cptnapalm (120276)

        "2+2="

        ooh! I know this! 5 5 5 5 5 5 5!!!!!1!!!

      • by Mr2cents (323101)

        With new technologies Big Brother becomes more and more feasible. You can be tracked with your cellphone. What happens when you combine security cameras and face recognition? What if banking becomes all digital and your accounts can be switched off? Data mining of your google search terms? Those are real risks, and slowly we could end up in such a world if we don't watch out..

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Reviewer sez...

      We're from the Government and we're here to help.

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:33PM (#27911587) Homepage

    That figure was made up by a lazy tabloid hack writing for the Daily Telegraph, who counted the number of CCTV cameras in about a quarter mile of the main street of a particularly unpleasant part of London, and then multiplied by the total distance of roads in the UK.

    It's not even believably wrong - it's so mind-buggeringly flawed that it defies human comprehension as to how anyone could possibly think it's even nearly right. If that figure was correct then you would pass a CCTV camera every 20 metres on every road in the UK. My driveway alone would have three or four cameras on it.

    I really wish people would stop spouting such patent nonsense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      CCTV cameras are not solely the domain of the government. The term CCTV is just an acronym for Closed-Circuit Television - i.e. practically any connected set of cameras and recording devices. Practically every store will have at least one, any store larger than the average cornershop is going to have many of them. Include ALL of those and I'm sure there are millions of CCTV cameras in the UK.

    • If there were millions of cameras, how many analysts would be needed to go through the videos? People have been watching too many movies [imdb.com]

      Overall, I'd say surveillance cameras are much like guns, only less lethal. Yes, they can be used for bad things. Should we outlaw them? No. Just have a reasonable control over them, alway keeping in mind that they aren't guns, you don't need as much camera control as you need gun control.

      People who hate or fear cameras have never lived in a bad neighborhood. I lived in Co [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by compro01 (777531)

        If there were millions of cameras, how many analysts would be needed to go through the videos?

        Not as many as you might think. You don't need to analyze every second of every video, just whenever something of interest occurs. And things like facial recognition further reduce that human requirement.

      • by Timmmm (636430)

        As it is currently they are fairly benign. The vast majority of CCTV cameras are in places corner shops and supermarkets. These aren't really monitored and the video data isn't accessible from elsewhere. There's no real danger to privacy and certainly people on Slashdot care far more about Britain's CCTV cameras than the British!

        However the danger comes when a large enough network of CCTV cameras (e.g. on the underground or in central london) is combined with sufficiently advanced computer vision software.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          "Benign" like a cantaloupe-sized tumor hanging off the side of your head. You know sometimes, when nobody is looking, I like to scratch my damn balls. Now I have to wait all day until I get home and shut the blinds before I can scratch. Once "gait analyzing" software is in place I'll set off all sorts of alarms, and rightly so, since unrelenting scrotal irritation is ample inspiration to become a suicide bomber.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hubbell (850646)
        You do know that the CCTV cameras have been used to prosecute a handful of criminals in britain, all of them being guilty of not scooping up their dog's shit while in a public area, right?
      • I'd rather have the right to walk fearlessly through the streets that my taxes maintain.

        We are close to achieving this goal. Some would say that human liberty has been compromised, but the reality is just the opposite. As surveillance expands, people become free from danger, free to walk alone at night, free to work in a safe place, and free to buy any legal product or service without the threat of fraud. One day every man and woman will quietly earn credits, purchase items for quiet homes on quiet streets,

    • A 60-80 meter driveway? Fuck.

    • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Monday May 11, 2009 @10:30PM (#27916973)

      Also, this study: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors292.pdf [homeoffice.gov.uk] from the Home Office says you're full of shit. Page six, last sentence of the first paragraph, four million CCTV cameras.

  • by xwizbt (513040) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:34PM (#27911605) Homepage

    Perhaps the reviewer may also wish to check out the Home Office Research Study 292, 'Assessing the impact of CCTV cameras' (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors292.pdf) before attempting to explain how useful they are to us, and maybe also have a read of Database State (http://www.jrrt.org.uk/uploads/Database State.pdf) to check the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust's report. Then there's the recent House Of Lords publication Surveillance, Citizens And The State (http://publications.parliament.uk).

  • by TheCarp (96830) * <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:35PM (#27911613) Homepage

    Actually, I am not so sure of the real value of these cameras. I mean, yes, in many circumstances they are helpful, but in all?

    Sure the craigslist killer may have been harder to catch, but men like him have been caught without any use of CCTV cameras before. Had he not been caught yet, some more lives may be lost or damaged, However, we are talking about overall policy of society... a single incident of a single "bad guy" does not a case for public policy make.

    With the advent of a DHS, with the successes, its not hard to see how creeping centralization can happen. I know that some police departments are often given direct access to private security cameras in many buildings, and particularly of the outward facing cameras that overlook city squares etc.

    It may be hard to centralize them now, but technology only makes it easier.

    Then look at the CORI system here in MA. A recent study found many accesses that were probably unauthorized. As far as they can tell, a significant portion of local police will think nothing of using the system to look up famous people's information. Of course, thats only been identified by looking for searches on famous names. An ex-girlfriend, Wife's new boyfriend, etc, there is no telling.

    Tehcnology gives new abilities. However, when you build infrastructure that has the potential for abuse, you have to build in proper checks and balances, or trust not just its designers, but the operators of the system, now...and into the future.

    the new Big brother will not run on a platform. He is quite happy to "creep on in" on the backs of otherwise good intentions. Like the recent no fly list issue. A plane that merely flew threw US airspace was detained and a reporter questioned... because someone put him on the secret no fly list, and somehow the US government got ahold of the passenger manifest. Was he put on the list as a mistake? Or was he put on because someone didn't like what he had to say and wanted to harass him? Where are the checks and balances?

    -Steve

    • by mdm-adph (1030332) <mdmadph@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:54PM (#27911891) Homepage

      a single incident of a single "bad guy" does not a case for public policy make.

      Hello, TheCarp, I'd like to introduce you to the sad state of legislation in the US for the past few decades or so. :(

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Acer500 (846698)

      A recent study found many accesses that were probably unauthorized. As far as they can tell, a significant portion of local police will think nothing of using the system to look up famous people's information. Of course, that's only been identified by looking for searches on famous names. An ex-girlfriend, Wife's new boyfriend, etc, there is no telling.

      -Steve

      As someone who had access to lots of confidential information (much like any sysadmin), I can say that the temptation to snoop on public figures and personal relations is indeed great.

      For this level of invasion of privacy (cameras are even greater invasions of privacy IMO than financial records), there should be a very good justification, which I think there isn't, else the abuses will easily overwhelm the benefits (perceived or otherwise).

    • by kent_eh (543303)

      Actually, I am not so sure of the real value of these cameras. I mean, yes, in many circumstances they are helpful, but in all?

      I'm sure these wanted criminals [winnipegsun.com] will soon be recognized and arrested based on the surveillance camera images...

      The basic black hoodie... Thwarting millions of dollars of surveillance technology since forever

    • Around here, a single case of a bad guy isn't enough to change public policy.

      What does is a single case of a young female attractive Nordic-looking person, who dies or disappears or is really badly hurt by a bad guy. That's enough to get a bad law passed.

  • by edremy (36408) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:35PM (#27911617) Journal
    Unless you have some better plan for CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN than a ubiquitous surveillance system running SCORPION STARE, we're all going to have to live with these sorts of inconveniences. Being spied on is nowhere near as bad as the alternative.
  • by msauve (701917)
    it's obvious this isn't a review, but a rebuttal from someone holding a different view.
  • by joocemann (1273720) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:36PM (#27911633)

    I don't think the author of this entry is entitled to define exactly when and how the 'Big Brother' example/metaphor can be applied in language.

    Yes, the Big Brother in Orwell's 1984 has specific definitions, but in reference/example/metaphor, people apply abstractions and generalizations that are not necessarily definitive of the original context. In such context, only elements or small aspects of the original concept may apply and it is usually up to the reader to bridge the relationship through active thought.

    Samzenpus (the Big Brother in this case) is trying to tell us all how to live!

  • by electricprof (1410233) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:44PM (#27911751)
    I believe the reviewer defines Big Brother too narrowly from Orwell's work. The oppressive dictatorial Big Brother is the ultimate icon or archetype of this concept. The more disturbing reality that people are reacting to is the inevitable buildup of the infrastructure of Big Brother. If anyone, acting as a smaller "big brother," say someone in law enforcement or some intelligence agency, decides to snoop on you ... perhaps as a result of one of the myriad false positives that this infrastructure produces ... the effect at the personal level is very similar to the dictatorial Big Brother that is spying on everybody. In the U.S. this gets uncomfortably close to violating the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
  • the use of the term 'Big Brother' in both the title and throughout the book is erroneous. Big Brother has its roots in George Orwell's novel 1984 and refers to an omnipresent, seemingly benevolent figure representing the oppressive control over individual lives exerted by an authoritarian government. The term has been misappropriated to describe everything from legitimate crime-fighting, to surveillance cameras, to corporate e-mail and network usage monitoring. Localities that deploy CCTV cameras in public

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:46PM (#27911795)
    Saying that the cameras aren't anything to do with Big Brother is like saying "This isn't really a handgun, handguns are tools used by murderers and I'm not one so this isn't a handgun". It's possible for a society to have benevolent pervasive camera presence, and I'd still call that Big Brother. It's a dangerous tool that, much like a chainsaw, can be very useful and beneficial to a society. But always remember it's dangerous! You can't just say "Look at the good uses of this tool, now stop criticizing it".
  • Surveillance cameras all around are set by your father government, company, city, etc. But a peer of you, a brother, hacks all those devices with common and not so safe access methods, and becomes a (somewhat dangerous) big brother.

    At least is what Hollywood want you to believe, anyone that could be qualified as hacker there can control all surveillance cameras around you.
  • The book notes that two CCTV schemes were sold to UK police in 2001 with the premise that they would eliminate crime and increase the number of visitors by 225,000 a year. Any police department that would believe such a marketing claim, without pilot testing and proof of concept should themselves be arrested for ineptitude.

    Okay, so the reviewer has only now figured out the same thing that the entire population of London has known for years. What does this have to do with the book?

  • Sir, I have an idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by w0mprat (1317953) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:54PM (#27911889)
    Agent: "Sir, I have an idea"
    Boss: "What's that Jenkins?"
    Agent: "Lets do a big budget reality TV show called Big Brother, that way the term Big Brother is further misunderstood by the general public and they'll stop calling us that"
    Boss: "That's brilliant Jenkins!"
  • It is more likely than you think. [deafdc.com]

    When government keeps getting bigger and bigger, it starts to behave and act more like Big Brother than our founding fathers.

    The government that governs least, governs best. [virginia.edu] Whomever said that be it John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, or Napoleon.

    It seems at least in fiction, there is a way to fight the UKian Big Brother [wikipedia.org] but I wouldn't advise it to UKians, least if they don't want to get arrested. :)

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Monday May 11, 2009 @04:03PM (#27912031)
    It has, perhaps, been some time since the reviewer read Nineteen Eighty-Four. In my mind, and that of many others, the salient feature of Big Brother was that he was watching you. Everywhere. The telescreen panel in your apartment is two-way. You have no privacy. Citizens of Oceania fear that some innocent action could be misconstrued resulting in a one-way trip to the Ministry of Love for a bit of Q&A with the Thought Police. Whether Big Brother actually existed was immaterial. Someone was watching you; always. To use Big Brother as a metaphor for omnipresent surveillance is both appropriate and suitably cautionary.
    • by cvd6262 (180823)

      I've had this conversation with a sociologist from an Ivy League school. I had pointed out some similarities between Osama Bin Laden and Emmanuel Goldstein when she said, "Yes, but remember that Orwell was writing an allegory for Stalinism. It doesn't really apply to our situation."

      That response, like the reviewer's comment that the book "misappropriates" the image of Big Brother, left me speechless. It wasn't until later that I realized such arguments are like saying, "Jesus was really only talking about f

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, the country that has perfected Big Brother techniques to the greatest extent is China. One of the things they've figured out is that you don't have to be harsh all the time. That's crude. You don't have to be looking all the time. That's inefficient.

      The key to controlling people is uncertainty. Am I being watched now? Is what I'm doing going to draw attention to myself? That's when people internalize Big Brother. Big Brother needn't be looking, because people do it to themselves.

      The imp

  • by Yobgod Ababua (68687) on Monday May 11, 2009 @04:03PM (#27912033)

    "Before going forward, the use of the term 'Big Brother' in both the title and throughout the book is erroneous."

    The usage of 'Big Brother' to refer to any sort of general surveillance is not only common, but perfectly valid. It is indeed a reference to 1984, but it primarily references the ever-present posters that remind people 'Big Brother is watching', not the oppressive government itself. If -someone- is watching, that someone is often referred to as Big Brother, because BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING, not necessarily because that someone is part of an authoritarian regime of oppression and misinformation.

  • "The book touches upon, but does not really answer, nor go into enough details on why people allow such pervasive use of electronic surveillance technologies to seamlessly enter society. Be it CCTV cameras that film public parks or attempt to catch speeding drivers; many are deployed with little to no protestations.

    Ahh.. Mabey because we don't get a choice in the matter during the initial planning and establishment stages... And when it is finally FORCED onto a ballot by petition, it is usually overwhelmi

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      I've seen a red-light camera that resulted in a rear-end collision when someone suddenly stopped on YELLOW because they were afraid of the camera.

      You can read minds?

      Who needs CCTV cameras...

      • by sjs132 (631745)

        You can read minds?

        Who needs CCTV cameras...

        But I keep it turned off or else I'd end up a quivering fool because of what I might hear... OR I could use it to get women by getting inside of their heads...

        oops.. Forgot I was on Slashdot. Guess I don't have telepathy after all.

    • by Ihlosi (895663)
      They seem to actually CAUSE safty issues as I've seen a red-light camera that resulted in a rear-end collision when someone suddenly stopped on YELLOW because they were afraid of the camera.

      No, the red-light camera didn't result in a rear-end collision. The idiot trying to cross the intersection on a yellow light while there's still a fscking car in front of him that had not entered the intersection caused the accident, period. Even more so if he wasn't keeping enough distance from that car. Don't blame

  • "Localities that deploy CCTV cameras in public thoroughfares in the hope of combating crime are in no way indicative of the oppressive control of Orwell's Big Brother."

    Sorry, but that's the biggest load of bull I have read in a long time. I disagree that the term has been "misappropriated". The situation mentioned above is as much of a stepping stone toward "Big Brother" as any warrantless surveillance is. What, does he expect "Big Brotherism" to spring up instantaneously? It could not. It would take a l
    • I agree.

      "Big Brother" in 1984 used television camera surveilance of every citizen, all of the time. (except for a tiny corner of Winston Smith's apartment, which was accidentally out of view). It is perfectly reasonable use of language to apply that metaphor to the CCTV surveillance society.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      What, does he expect "Big Brotherism" to spring up instantaneously? It could not. It would take a lot of these little, intermediate steps.

      Indeed, and Orwell describes Big Brother as having come to be in exactly these terms.

      You'd hope someone correcting the meaning of "Big Brother" would know this...

  • The real question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dogzilla (83896) on Monday May 11, 2009 @04:22PM (#27912375) Homepage

    is why the feed from these cameras aren't publicly available, and why the cameras aren't installed in the offices of our public officials, police forces, and anyone else doing the public's work. I'd argue there's an even greater need for us to keep an eye on them than there is for them to keep an eye on us.

    Install the surveillance cameras for yourselves first, and then we'll gladly allow you to watch us in public. And please don't cite "privacy concerns". We threw those out the window a long time ago.

  • ... in a very long time.

    Not only are the reviewer's own biases glaringly evident, apparently he seems to believe that ineffective surveillance is equivalent to no surveillance. Nothing could be further from the truth. He also seems to feel that law enforcement agencies would not undertake forms of surveillance that are obviously ineffective; again he would be very sadly mistaken.
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Monday May 11, 2009 @05:35PM (#27913603) Journal

    Seriously, it's not a review at all--it's an op/ed piece, and a badly written one at that.

    How about reviewing the book as given, and leaving your attitude for your OWN book?

  • Localities that deploy CCTV cameras in public thoroughfares in the hope of combating crime are in no way indicative of the oppressive control of Orwell's Big Brother.

    The only difference, really, was in what the localities in question defined as crimes. In Oceana, crimes included thinking the wrong thing. Britain has not quite yet reached that level (however, given that parliament has absolute sovereignty, there's precious little that can prevent it), but the level of surveillance by itself wasn't what made the society oppressive.

    • by Petrushka (815171)

      In Oceana, crimes included thinking the wrong thing. Britain has not quite yet reached that level (however, given that parliament has absolute sovereignty, there's precious little that can prevent it),

      Oh, I'd say it has reached that level all right. It's a country where you can be jailed for things that you see, regardless of intent (e.g. if someone else sends you some child porn in an e-mail and you report it, you will be jailed for having seen it); a country where you can be held in prison indefinitely without trial for refusing to reveal a password that a law enforcement official suspects may be in your head. If you meant that you can't be jailed for political opinions that you never express publicall

  • I just finished reading Phillip K. Dick's "Man In The High Castle" which takes place in an alternate reality in which the Nazis and the Japanese won World War II. It takes place about 20 years after the war when things have settled down and the colonial empires of the Japanese and Germans are more or less up and running.

    Someone asked me if the books was like 1984, Brave New World, or V for Vendetta. I told them that no it really wasn't at all. That's because the idea behind 1984 is that the government li

  • brothke, I'm watching you, you're out off line! -- B. Brother
  • I guess that wasn't a surveillance camera behind Winston Smith's mirror in 1984? The reviewer is a twit. And an obvious agent of the forces of Big Brotherism. Under what rock do they find these folks?

  • To the right of this page, is an ad presented by Google regarding Intelspy.com

  • First and foremost, it's great that you read -- and retained -- 1984. That being said, whether you like it or not, "Big Brother" has entered the vernacular as "overly-controlled and/or observed." Things like this happen frequently -- you should probably roll with it. Next, the book is making a general point with anecdotes; without reading it, I can't state whether or not this is being abused -- but the mere fact that anecdotes are being used is not a reason to condemn, which you clearly think it is. I m

  • No.

    Back here in the US, we're working at it, also (though this administration may change some things). Does anyone want to argue that mandatory drug tests for jobs, and for some, random drug tests (for someone not operating a vehicle) isn't "overly controlled"? How about this decade, when suddenly employers want credit checks, and now more and more want criminal background checks?

    Tell me that the companies that own the government aren't the real Big Brother. Put that in the context of the people who've been

"It's curtains for you, Mighty Mouse! This gun is so futuristic that even *I* don't know how it works!" -- from Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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