New ‘Smart’ CCTV records the erosion of civil liberties in even greater clarity and detail
The aftermath of recent riots in the UK has led, amongst other consequences, to a push in some quarters for greater usage of CCTV. The rationale for this approach seems to be that, if the UK’s enormous preponderance of CCTV cameras hasn’t yet made the country safe, peaceful, and prosperous, that must indicate that there aren’t enough CCTV cameras. The fact that we, as a country, have more CCTV cameras per person than any other nation on the planet, and that all that footage didn’t seem to deter rioters particularly strongly, doesn’t appear to have been factored into calculations.
Now we’ve received word of a new and even more invasive version of CCTV, developed by a research team at Kingston University led (we kid you not) by a Dr. Orwell. It’s claimed that this ‘smart’ CCTV can use artificial intelligence to detect particular behaviour patterns and trace a miscreant from camera to camera.
In theory, this sounds pretty good. Dr. Orwell even claims that it will allow for less surveillance by zeroing in on those creating disorder and making it possible to delete all irrelevant footage.
That’s a nice idea. Once in the hands of governments, however, how can we possibly trust that the technology will be used in the way Dr. Orwell suggests, rather than being trained on groups or individuals engaged in activities that are simply inconvenient or antithetical to the government’s interests? As Charles Farrier of No CCTV says:
Merely saying ‘We promise we won’t track innocent people’ isn’t good enough. If you’ve got a state-run camera system and the state wants it triggered on, say, peace activists, then they won’t be bound by the same rules as everyone else.