November 29, 2006
Lens Culture: Britain is number 1 surveillance society
The ubiquity of public surveillance cameras — the dark side of our modern world's lens culture — means that the typical pedestrian in London today can be photographed anonymously as many as 300 times per day. According to a report in the BBC, Britain leads the world in the number of CCTV surveillance cameras per capita: 14.2 million cameras, or about one camera for every 14 people.
It's a double edged-sword, of course. These cameras capture the actions of kidnappers, terrorists, wreckless drivers, and other criminals. But they also capture — and store — the actions of everyone else in the process. Big Brother-style watching has never been more intense, and the trend continues upwards.
It would be interesting to hear comments from readers about this kind of involuntary surveillance, and also to see sociological and/or art projects that take advantage of this kind of technology, as well.
The biggest problem we have is that most people in the UK do not care about it, but they should!
I'd no idea "wreckless" drivers were considered a threat in Britain. And I've been trying to emulate them!
I have an odd hunch that many of the people who condone this sort of thing and maintain that they don't mind the surveillance would likely be among the first to balk at a photographer taking their picture in a public place.