Wednesday, April 04, 2007
UK's New Big Brother-ing : 'Talking' Surveillance Cameras are Coming Here 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Pardon my French, but I find this just f---ing creepy and beyond the pale. The BBC reports that a pilot interactive surveillance camera program - with remotely monitored units that not only observe, but verbally reprimand 'bad public behavior' - will be extended to more locations [via Kottke.org]:
"Talking" CCTV cameras that tell off people dropping litter or committing anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 areas across England. They are already used in Middlesbrough where people seen misbehaving can be told to stop via a loudspeaker, controlled by control centre staff. About £500,000 will be spent adding speaker facilities to existing cameras.

Shadow home affairs minister James Brokenshire said the government should be "very careful" over the cameras. Home Secretary John Reid told BBC News there would be some people, "in the minority who will be more concerned about what they claim are civil liberties intrusions...But the vast majority of people find that their life is more upset by people who make their life a misery in the inner cities because they can't go out and feel safe and secure in a healthy, clean environment because of a minority of people," he added. [emphasis mine]

What really upsets people is their night out being destroyed or their environment being destroyed by a fairly small minority of people. The talking cameras did not constitute "secret surveillance", he said. "It's very public, it's interactive." Competitions would also be held at schools in many of the areas for children to become the voice of the cameras, Mr Reid said.
Er, no, it's not "interactive" - unless you can talk back to the cams and tell them to sod off. You've got to hand it to the government officials, though, on what I like to call the "Ronald McDonald Effect": win the hearts and imaginations of children on an idea, and you've all but insured public acceptance. Plus, wouldn't you rather have a sweet-voiced primary schooler tell you "Place your trash in the bin! Yes, you - the portly bald gentleman!" than a mechanized Orson Welles? "It puts on the lotion!" indeed. Ahem...and Chicago, let's not give Da Mare any interesting ideas:Unfortunately, this wasn't just a backdated April Fool's gag.

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