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The Road to Big Brother

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Privacy 212

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 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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Big Brother? More Like Big Nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911311)

Niggers keep trying to take my money.

Fuck off, nigger. You can't have my money.

Re:Big Brother? More Like Big Nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911331)

BTW, fp.

Re:Big Brother? More Like Big Nigger (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911547)

Bigblacknigger? is that you?

Re:Big Brother? More Like Big Nigger (-1, Offtopic)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912881)

The Jews got you fooled.

You're worrying about the blacks, when the Jew money-printers ripp you off, and charge 120% to do you the f*ing favor. Black man stands free as he can, while you owe your ass an more, as the jew-bank's whore.

Keep an "eye" out for these guys: (5, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911321)

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.

Re:Keep an "eye" out for these guys: (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911919)

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, big brother etc.

Just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we OUGHT to do it. Even if it SEEMS like a good idea at the time.

Re:Keep an "eye" out for these guys: (1)

BobGod8 (1123841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912163)

Between that, this [slashdot.org] , and the creepy hearing aid commercials late at night, be very afraid.

Rothke Writes Another of His (1, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912479)

Right-wing control-freak apologies. "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"

Right. Assertion based on facts not in evidence. Sell it to the f-ing Israelis, Mr. Mossad.

big brother (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911431)

was this review written by a cop?

Re:big brother (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911755)

Both the book and the review are wildly biased, though obviously in opposite directions. I think it's safe to say that the truth lies somewhere in the wide area between the two. For what its worth, I'd guess the truth is in the area of "Politicians legitimately trying to do what they think is right but screwing it up badly by not realizing the unintended consequences of their actions".

Re:big brother (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911783)

Judging by its piss-poor empty arguments against the book and all the spelling/grammar mistakes, I'd say yes.

Re:big brother (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911931)

I don't think the reviewer is a cop. But I do think the reviewer is a paid-up member of the UK LieBore Party. Or a Guardian Journalist (much the same thing).

It is a terrible review. Totally biased in favour of Government and anti-privacy. He's basically bloated full of security-theatre koolaid.

If he's British, he must be the last man standing that supports the Government right now. Maybe they paid him with expenses money.

Re:big brother (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912553)

not the LieBore Party.. nononooo.. you've got it all wrong. he's working at minitru :)

Re:big brother (5, Insightful)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912001)

Arguments of the form "group X doesn't want to hurt you, therefore technology Y is not dangerous to your freedom" completely miss the point; once technology Y is in place, it is waiting, ready for use by group Z which does want to restrict your civil rights.

The apparatus of a police state is dangerous even in a democracy because it makes it so much easier for some rogue element to end democracy by imposing a police state without free assembly, free speech, free practice of religion, etc.

Re:big brother (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912529)

Ancient example:

Under the democratic Republic of Rome, the stadium games served as a way for Group X (the Senators) to entertain the people. Just for fun. But once group Z (the emperors) arrived on the scene, the games devolved into a way to kill undesirables like criminals, slaves, and Christians/Jews.

"This job would be a lot easier if instead of a Republic, we had a dictatorship. Ha, ha, ha." - G. Dubya Bush

LBJ Said it Best (5, Informative)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913051)

One should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered

-- Lyndon Johnson, former President of the U.S.

This Book Review: Poorly Conceived, Poorly Written (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27912105)

Starting with a specious criticism concerning the "erroneous" use of the term Big Brother, this review wanders through to the useless conclusion that this book should have been about something other than what it was about. What the review thinks that the book should have been about is immaterial, and making that point the conclusion of the review just marks it as a bad review.

There may be some accurate and useful criticisms here, but it is impossible to tell. The review is a disorganized mess of anecdotes from the books, which are rebutted with little to support the reviewer's case. What is needed is first to portray a useful summary of the book and its thesis, and then make criticisms based on that. There is no useful exposition of the book's theme, only a laundry list of criticisms that seems more like an extended whine.

To examine one specific criticism, it does not seem reasonable to expect a book to cover events that happen after it is written, let alone those that happen after it is typeset, printed, and bound. By citing only the apprehension of the (alleged) Craigslist killer and the Wesleyan University bookstore killer, the reviewer actually suggests that there are no significant successes for CCTV within the timeframe of the book. Is that the case? The audience is left to guess, because the reviewer does not seem to know.

To sum up, this review is simply a collection of specific points made about the subject book. The reader is left with little idea of the scope of the subject book, its themes, or any thesis that Mr. Clark presents. But it was not for naught; now I know that I should probably avoid Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

Re:This Book Review: Poorly Conceived, Poorly Writ (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912537)

What kind of "review" do you expect from a Zionist control freak? Let him run a checkpoint in the West Bank, so he can make sure a few brown babies and their grandfathers die, emargoes from access to medicine. Maybe then he'll leave us alone.

Re:This Book Review: Poorly Conceived, Poorly Writ (1)

Strilanc (1077197) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913329)

Excellent post. Well written, insightful, and even a bit funny.

Re:big brother (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913155)

That was exactly my thinking.

"We LOVE our government surveillence. It's legitimate and good. Don't listen to those laughable studies showing that massive surveillence has absolutely no benefit in preventing crime, and no effect on crime rates, and only serves as a tool for Intelligence organizations to collect information about citizens, so as to quell dissent, and spy on any political opposition, with such an extreme opportunity for abuse, even beyond the invasion of privacy aspect, that such a crazy system should have no place in ANY civilized society. Your government loves you. They want to play catch with your children, and buy you a beer. If you don't have anything to hide, why is there a problem? We're just the friendly Government come to make your life better"

And as for the US. The reviewer obviously hasn't been paying attention in the last few decades, as the power has been centralized more and more, taking power from the states putting it into the Federal government's hands, consolidating agencies one after another directly beneath the executive branch, federalizing the police, integrating the military with police for domestic operations against citizens, and on and on and on.

As for the UK. I've always wanted to visit, but I wouldn't be caught dead in that "Brave New World". Sounds like the reviewer would have had a great time in Nazi Germany.

Let's asume that magically all of the sudden massive surveillance into the lives of every citizen did anything good for the population (and not for the Beurocrats keeping the population under their thumb of control). Even if having a chip implant up your anus and your own personal police officer to to follow you around and arrest you if your rectal temperature deviates to rapidly made the world crime free, is it really worth it? I'd rather live in the middle of a crime ridden cess pool, than in an Orwellian Surveilance State.

The government should get back to what it's supposed to do, and micromanaging the lives of it's citizens is NOT one of those purposes.

Brothke: People like you piss me off. Go move to China. I much prefer that whole "freedom" model, even if though it's hard to come by in the suposed "free world". At least the criminals on the street don't have massive amounts of power, infastructure and resources behind them. The government criminals certainly do.

Worse than Big Brother: Big Bureaucracy (4, Insightful)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911439)

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:Worse than Big Brother: Big Bureaucracy (2, Funny)

Acer500 (846698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911997)

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 :)

Re:Worse than Big Brother: Big Bureaucracy (5, Funny)

Jorj X. McKie (323674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912199)

You rang? :-)

Re:Worse than Big Brother: Big Bureaucracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913349)

Far from it. Centralized power has no checks and balances.

Power corrupts: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Look at it in the light that every seperation of power that you introduce just throws the wrench into the machine of tyranny. It's precicely the reason why it's been taking a lot longer for the US to turn into Nazi Germany, whereas some of the EU countries are going that way very rapidly (post WWII).

People have gotten used to being told there is nothing to worry about and their government loves them to understand that if they don't kick the government's ass every time they get out of line or try to consolidate their power, they're going to wind up in a nightmarish dystopia.

I'm not so sure that I want an efficient government. If they are all incompitent bafoons, or everything is so decentralized that they can't get anything done, how would they even enforce a tyrcannical policy? Look at Canada. I used to live there, and their massive inefficiency made it a better place to live as the Burocratic class were too busy chasing their rubber stamps than to get around to terrorizing the population.

Nazi Germany was a very efficient government. No thanks.

Wow. (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911485)

Some book reviewer really woke up on the "sniveling apologist bootlicker for incipient fascism" side of the bed this morning.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911559)

ROTFL Too true.

Re:Wow. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911575)

My first thought on reading the summary wasn't about the book but how defensive the reviewer was.

Of course most legitimate surveillance are small steps towards the Big Brother you're saying they're not.

Re:Wow. (1)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911609)

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:Wow. (2, Funny)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911743)

"2+2="

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

Re:Wow. (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911863)

For sufficiently large values of 2, that is correct...

Re:Wow. (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911789)

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..

Re:Wow. (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912617)

Why did you cast the current situation into the hypothetical future? Get your thermometer in order, my web-footed compatriot!

Follow the money on these things... The roads all trail back to Israel - land of inverted-crypto technologies, used for surveillance, not privacy. Look back at PROMIS, etc.

They bought frog-legs off the menu, and the soup's almost ready.

Re:Wow. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911825)

Reviewer sez...

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

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913081)

Perhaps the worst distortion of the Big Brother hysteria, of which the book provides no source

Ah, that's okay, now Wikipedia has a source, and further editions of the book can reference that.

The term has been misappropriated to describe everything from legitimate crime-fighting, to surveillance cameras, to corporate e-mail and network usage monitoring.

Seeing as the book is called THE ROAD TO..., I'd say it's perfect apt. The infrastructure is providing a means to an end. Different authorities are deciding on different ends.

Given the chance an enterprising soul could probably make some awesome performance art with the UK CCTV system.

Like the internet, it's not inherently evil, but unlike the internet, we have this vision of one entity monitoring everything that occurs on a wall of televisions. (Insert THX1138/Matrix/Lost/Google/etc. reference here.)

And let's just admit it, there are a lot of people out there fucking up the world we're trying to live in. Criminals are generally outdoors, and politicians are generally indoors.

Government is here to help. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911567)

Government doesn't hate us. They're only here to regulate criminals. Just let the do their job, and don't interfere. They should be payed better than all the other jobs because it's hard to find anyone willing to work on such mediocre tasks. Just think of all the pain an IRS agent over in Baltimore Maryland goes through just to get his job done. No wonder they're so detached from society, because society has to look and bring people from other countries willing to mediate and administer our codes in a neutral manner. Yay Tax Court, Traffic Court, and Family Court. Yay!

Re:Government is here to help. (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912665)

Oh, and there is financial incentive in newly defining large areas of private and civic life as illegal. Your innocence stands in between a billionaire and his next grotesque excess. I suppose you will now be guilty of something.

There aren't "millions" of CCTV cameras. (5, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911587)

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:There aren't "millions" of CCTV cameras. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911681)

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.

Your driveway is not a public road.

I really wish people would stop spouting such patent nonsense.

Indeed.

Re:There aren't "millions" of CCTV cameras. (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912041)

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.

Logistically impossible (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912273)

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 Colombia [wikipedia.org] for a few years when I was a kid. I was mugged in daylight in an upper middle class neighborhood getting home from school when I was nine years old.

Big brother doesn't scare me. I'd rather have the right to walk fearlessly through the streets that my taxes maintain.

Re:Logistically impossible (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913047)

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.

Re:Logistically impossible (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913513)

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. This would allow the kind of data mining that people *should* be worried about.

Re:Logistically impossible (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913837)

>>I was mugged in daylight in an upper middle class neighborhood getting home from school when I was nine years old.

And CCTV isn't going to prevent you from being mugged. It *may* aid in a conviction, but does not stop a bullet, knife, nor a thug who is willing to mug a 9 y/o kid.

Poor Review - Time to do some research. (5, Informative)

xwizbt (513040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911605)

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).

CCTV cameras scare me a bit (5, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911613)

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

Re:CCTV cameras scare me a bit (3, Insightful)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911891)

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:CCTV cameras scare me a bit (2, Interesting)

Acer500 (846698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912141)

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).

Re:CCTV cameras scare me a bit (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912177)

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

Sigh. We've been over this before (3, Funny)

edremy (36408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911617)

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.

Re:Sigh. We've been over this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27912055)

"Being spied on is nowhere near as bad as the alternative"

I beg to differ. It is still being spied upon, no matter how you care to justify it.

The only difference between "fighting crime" and "big brother" lies in the eyes of the observer.

Just from the summary... (1, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911623)

it's obvious this isn't a review, but a rebuttal from someone holding a different view.

Use of Example/Metaphor... (3, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Re:Use of Example/Metaphor... (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911915)

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.

Mod parent up DoublePlus Good!

=smudge=

Re:Use of Example/Metaphor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911947)

I think you are giving the poster to much leeway. In 1984, each room of each dwelling place has a 2 way tv, so the govt can monitor your actions and sounds 24/7.
The idea that the govt is omni present - always wathcing every move and sound that you make - is an important theme of the book.
given this, i think the big brother is an appropriate metaphor for TV cameras everywhere.

DOD Networks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911725)

What? More networks than countries have computers? Do you mean network interfaces or local networks or intranets, what??!! That is a stretch. Facts and strong arguments make a point, not buzzwords and fancy sentences thrown about.

Work on it a bit more.

Big Brother as an archetype (4, Insightful)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

I don't get it (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911767)

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.

WTF? Since when does a book review need a disclaimer? This alone indicates how paranoid people are about "Big Brother". I guess the submitter will be spending a little time at the Ministry of Love.

i always find this topic humorous (1, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911773)

slashdot frequently decries mass hysteria, yet fears of television cameras to capture speeders is apparently the gateway to the downfall of western civilization and liberal/libertarian ideals. gee, maybe its just to catch speeders?

i try to find the reason for this peculiar slashdot hysteria, and i really can't find the reason why a bunch of otherwise intelligent people go so bonkers over transit cameras. maybe it is just that some people here take the symbolism of 1984 as if it were divine infallible revelation. that the book is just a halfbaked work of fiction, whose implications have absolutely nothing to do with the reality we find ourselves in today, is apparently besides the point

for example: little brother. orwell never considered this. the idea being, anyone with a cell phone camera has the same surveillance technology as the state and can use that against the state in collusion with other individuals, a la rodney king. the implications of this technological balance between the individual and the state, even though rodney king happened almost twenty years ago, is apparently completely beyond some of you great minds to even consider. no: transit cameras are an unstoppable identity destroying force, a slippery slope into totalitarian fascism, and we have no defense against it. huh? how about this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BART_Police_shooting_of_Oscar_Grant [wikipedia.org]

is this the future as presaged by orwell? you can't consider that REAL LIFE example? no: orwell's FICTION laid it all out, and it is unquestionable divine revelation? are you paranoid schizophrenics?

its as if slashdot takes orwell as some sort of infallible prophet, and no one actually applies any mental effort to analyze what he actually writes, to come to conclusion: gee, nice science fiction story, absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR CURRENT REALITY. EVER

some of you would laugh at superstitious illiterate 3rd world rural people who might believe, for example, that giving them the evil eye would give them cancer, or that taking their picture steals a bit of their soul

this is exactly how i think of some of you. so many of you take with unthinking devotion the idea that speeding cameras are equivalent to a slippery slope to totalitarian fascism. its absolutely hilarious, the panty twisting stupidity of this notion. really

frankly, i find no difference between some of your thinking on george orwell's cheesy fiction and the thinking religious fundamentalists and their sacred texts

enjoy geroge orwell, please. i especially liked "animal farm". but some of you really have to update some of your frankly ridiculous blind assumptions on camera technology and western civilization. you are quite the laughing stock the way some of you get worked up into a tizzy over what is frankly, not the slightest big deal

you may now mod me troll and continue your groupthink whineathon about how speeding camaras are fascism

airheaded twits

Re:i always find this topic humorous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911993)

You are assuming that people have read Orwell.
Come on, this is Slashdot. Nobody RTFBook. But we can repeat the memes.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (3, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912063)

thinking that TV cameras are the slippery slope to 24/7 facism is not hilarious; it is reasonable fear.
Suppose the british , by spending money, make the cost of cameras and software cheaper - surely that will hasten the day when, say N korea will have cameras implanted in everyone at birth...that is not wacked out/. fear m ongering, that is a reasonable fear.
I wonder how old you are: the loss of liberty and freedom, just in my shortlife (i'm 53) is astonishing - but it happens slowly, or in a climate of fear 99/11) and you don't really notice how bad things are: if you ahd told people on 9/10 that to get on an airplane, you had to show up 2 hours early, not carry a penkife, ...people would have gasped.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (2, Interesting)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912099)

...fears of television cameras to capture speeders is apparently the gateway to the downfall of western civilization and liberal/libertarian ideals. gee, maybe its just to catch speeders?

That's a laughably naive supposition. The first mistake you make is assuming the speed has been set for the sake of safety, and not to catch 'speeders' as a profit-generating exercise. There have been numerous stories about places where traffic lights are set up so more people will run the red and get ticketed. There's also this story [winnipegfreepress.com] . Note the 20-fold increase in tickets year-over-year. Living in the area, I can assure you it wasn't because everyone decided it was time to start speeding. As noted in the article, there were an obscene number handed out in off-hours construction zones where the speed was reduced at all times, rather than using the reduced speed while passing workers sign. Both signs can be found in this pdf link [gov.mb.ca] .

Re:i always find this topic humorous (4, Insightful)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912119)

Big Brother has the power to take away all that from "little brother".

You only need the government to realise every young person totting around with cellphone cameras etc is a threat and then your main point starts to fall down. You also misunderstand that these things can also become part of the surveillance mechanism itself. Just what is happening to those pictures you send over a mobile network?

George Orwell did paint a fanciful worst case scenario, but very few academics come out and say it's outright poppycock, because it still has some plausibility. I also think you forget history, Gestapo, Cold war anti-communism in the united states. Yes the west has spent some time scrabbling for traction on the slippery slope.

Today's CCTV + Wiretapping world is far removed from Big Brother, yes, and a lot would have to go wrong for it become reality, but that doesn't make it OK nor not worth fighting.

I suggest Cory Doctorow's Little Brother as further reading: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ [craphound.com]

Don't mess with slashdot hysteria. Oh and get off my lawn.

you've just described tehran, or beijing (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912915)

ie, any country where the notion of individual rights are not well-respected

you have not remotely described anything that would happen in new york city or london

furthermore, to suppose that the existence of transit cameras is some sort of unstoppable corrosive battery acid that will subvert 400 years of enlightenment thinking reveals a lack of faith in western liberal thinking on your part, not on the part of western society

the pillars of these western liberal notions and the rights and freedoms they support are not impervious to damage, not in the least. but they are a lot stronger than you suppose, and to destroy them to the extent that you and others suggest would take a lot more concerted effort and a lot more societal changes than some stupid transit cameras

if you do not understand the last two sentences i have just written, you are most definitely a hysterical twit, operating on unfound fear, and not in the least upon reasonable thought

Re:you've just described tehran, or beijing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913969)

the pillars of these western liberal notions and the rights and freedoms they support are not impervious to damage, not in the least. but they are a lot stronger than you suppose, and to destroy them to the extent that you and others suggest would take a lot more concerted effort and a lot more societal changes than some stupid transit cameras

And you think that the effort is not there? Or that rights can only be infringed upon given sweeping societal change? All that is needed for them to be negated is complacency.

Those "western liberal" governments have subverted these rights and freedoms before and will do so again. Where was due process for the Japanese-Americans during WWII, or for Muslims post-9/11? Where was free speech for those in "free speech zones" at recent major political events/conventions? Where was the right against unreasonable searches when the NSA conducted warrantless wiretaps? Where was the right to bear arms in Washington, DC until recently?

Our freedoms do not need to be abolished to be compromised. You call him hysterical, I call you naive. Society doesn't need to transform itself for these rights to be lost; it merely needs to stand out of the way.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912289)

Let's get this straight - you think a "little brother" of disorganized and chaotic individuals with hand-held cameras is somehow proof that well-funded, state-controlled camera systems connected to ever more featureful databases aren't likely to be used for nefarious purposes? You really believe that power purifies? That there is no such thing as feature-creep? That no one within the upper ranks of law enforcement has ever thought that making their job easier was more important than the privacy and civil rights of the people? That the path to hell is NOT paved with good intentions?

What a perfect world you live in.

There is no humor here. (4, Insightful)

Atypical Geek (1466627) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912459)

The proliferation of government surveillance systems is not amusing. It is disturbing. The fact that persons such as yourself dismiss the potential negative implications of omnipresent authority as paranoia is frightening.

In the novel 1984 Orwell described a government (the Party) that used ubiquitous surveillance as an instrument to consolidate power and oppress the populace. In reality, governments are installing cameras, creating databases and using technology to invade privacy on a massive scale. The correlation is obvious.

Furthermore, even if the cameras are, as you argue, only going to be used for legitimate law enforcement purposes, is that an acceptable practice? Can a society be free when there is 100% enforcement of the laws?

I guess that would depend on the laws, now, wouldn't it? Though, given some of the more insane laws on the books, and the barrage of new ones poured forth that target the "worst" in our societies (think sex offenders and terrorists), I would venture that "perfect" law enforcement is no more a legitimate function of government than maximizing tax revenue.

Also, your argument concerning "Little Brother" is flawed. Rodney King's tormentors were not convicted of any crime. Indeed, episodes of police brutality, wrongful prosecution and judicial misconduct rarely end with the offenders being punished. A citizen with a cell phone tends to be outmatched by the power of the government.

1984 is fiction. But many in power act like it's an instruction manual.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (1)

Doc Daneeka (1107345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912865)

Your argument doesn't do your opinions much justice.

I agree with your assertion that some people freak out about mundane things (for various values of mundane) when they probably should not. I also think getting too overworked about these things is hilarious. However, may I ask, what is the harm in the small, vocal minority of people that do freak out about every-little-thing in doing so? Would it be more beneficial for society to not have these watchmen, or - in your opinion - loonies, voice their concerns? You do, after all, have the ability to ignore them like they have of you.

In all of the posts that I have read under this article, not one of them would I attribute to the crazy, tin-foil hat societal fringe you describe slashdot as being comprised of. This book may, or may not, happen to have been written by one of these excessively paranoid people you and I find funny, but many of the posts on slashdot about this category of Big Brother and descent-into-fascism are well-reasoned and well-grounded in the reoccurring nature of history. One of the reasons why so many slashdotters make posts about Big Brother is because the technology being used to monitor us falls under one of their areas of expertise. Another reason they may post is that they feel we, as a people, should learn from fiction and history so that we do not repeat our past mistakes - or make them in the first place.

Specifically, on the subject of traffic and transit cameras, we feel that having a multitude of cameras everywhere in society does not foster an atmosphere of privacy and assumed innocence. Maybe we are overreacting now - maybe the amount these cameras can help society far outweighs the damage the may cause. However, reset the scenario for the generation after this technology was introduced when the next big advancement in surveillance technology occurs - assuming it does, of course. Are the next generation's fears that this new surveillance technology may be overreaching unjustified too? In addition to the future, we must also think about past technological innovations. Were concerns at the time these technologies were being implemented justified? If these technologies were abused, in what way were they and how did we correct for these abuses? Were the corrections successful? Etc.

The furthest out on the fringe are definitely hilarious. The paranoid, loony people that think the CIA are personally out to get them because they know about the Illuminati vampire plot to use the resurrected corpse of FDR to take over the world are just too absurd not to find funny. But the people on slashdot, for the most part, are not these people. Do not paint them with such a wide brush because their fears, while sometimes overstated and dramatic, are nonetheless relevant and justified.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (1)

godless dave (844089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913147)

slashdot frequently decries mass hysteria, yet fears of television cameras to capture speeders is apparently the gateway to the downfall of western civilization and liberal/libertarian ideals. gee, maybe its just to catch speeders?

The intent of the cameras doesn't matter. Once they're in place, eventually someone will use them for repressive purposes. Power corrupts. Give the government too much power, and inevitably they will abuse it.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913543)

Maybe you should consider the fact that the police actually tried to get people who took pictures of Oscar Grant to hand over their cameras. In the city where I stay the police have control over cameras. Cops have shot people in front of cameras and somehow the footage was never available.

Cameras are only as good as those who control them. Giving authority to politicians to monitor our every public move is scary.

Re:i always find this topic humorous (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913789)

While you make some goods points, it's interesting how your wording provides the perfect defense against a troll mod, which in many ways would be appropriate to apply to your post. You get to call people names, and if you actually were modded troll you can say, "See? I said the groupthinkers would attempt to quash my statement. Look how correct I must be."

The presentation of your ideas in such a blatantly manipulative way does much to undermine any weight carried by your opinions, at least among those who aren't already members of your particular brand of groupthink.

Of course it's still Big Brother! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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".

Another big brother definition (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911805)

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.

What's the point? (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911857)

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?

PUBLIC places and Privacy (1)

Publikwerks (885730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911869)

I know I'm going to voice an unpopular opinion, but these are public places, you have no expectation of privacy. How is this different from having a police office standing there? I know, the evil government will track you, so they know everything you do, right? Guess what, your not that important. The government doesn't care that you stood in line for 3 hours for Star Trek.

Re:PUBLIC places and Privacy (1)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912029)

Yes they are indeed public places, but also consider that stalking, even in public places, is against the law. Perhaps the interesting discussion question is ... When does legitimate surveillance become stalking? Has the government defined away the possibility that it can be guilty of stalking?

Re:PUBLIC places and Privacy (1)

Publikwerks (885730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912167)

I would guess that the line is somthing a judge would have to draw on a case by case basis. Think of how they would handle it if it was a real life officer watching you. Unless you make a complaint, there is little oversight, and even if you do, if they have a a reason to follow you, they are going to get alot of lattitude. It's somthing that would require internal affairs to monitor I guess.

Re:PUBLIC places and Privacy (2, Insightful)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912551)

The difference? There's no enduring record of your activities if there's just a cop on the corner. With a CCTV and sufficiently large storage, someone could go back and count exactly how many times you pass by certain places. Now what if those certain places are deemed "unseemly" such as drug hangouts, or fronts for illegal activities. They now have evidence that could be used in a warrant against you. "Your honour, the defendant was repeatedly seen in the vicinity of the smuggling warehouse, it seems only logical that we can now search his home for anything linking him to the smuggled goods." And you don't get to argue against a warrant while it's being requested. So now the cops have a foot in the door. Why would they focus on you? You trod on the foot of an off-duty officer, and didn't grovel enough for his liking, thus causing a petty vendetta. Cops have abused their power before, this would just expand the scope, if it wasn't properly set up with checks and balances.

Re:PUBLIC places and Privacy (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912767)

There are a few differences:

1. Cost. When surveillance is labor intensive, it is necessarily only used in exceptional circumstances(against specific high-profile enemies of the state). The only way to use it broadly is to consume an unsustainable portion of the available economic output(as in East Germany). In effect, the expense and inconvenience of low-tech surveillance function, for the vast majority of people, as a de-facto set of protections from state intrusion. Furthermore, since it is expensive and uncommon, people are much less likely to see it as normal, and more likely to question its use without clear justification.

2. Retention. Humans have fairly poor memories, on the whole. If you see me in public(and thousands of people have) you will have only the fuzziest recollection of me a short while later, unless I was doing something abnormal, interesting, or alarming at the time. Again, for anyone who isn't notable enough to have a team of feds submitting written reports, the limitations of low tech surveillance create a fairly short de-facto "document retention period" after which witness memories are useless or nonexistent.

3. Access. Recalling the results of manual surveillance is a gigantic pain in the ass. Best case scenario is well kept records. Worst case is having to plaster the town with notices, asking witnesses to come forward and be interviewed, and all the hassle that that entails. The larger the query, the worse the hassle. This creates a de-facto protection against fishing expeditions.

Increasingly, automated surveillance is free of these limitations and, to the degree that it is not, there are easily plausible projections of how it might become so. Cameras are cheap, and getting cheaper, and there are many, many more of them being put up for various individual and commercial purposes, which could be aggregated for intelligence purposes; but don't count as a direct cost the way cops do. Data storage and retrieval are getting ever cheaper, and search technology is getting ever better. As the cost of surveillance declines the threshold of "not that important" does as well.

The other factor is the symmetry of surveillance. Historically, even in the most heavily surveiled places(small towns and villages, for instance) surveillance was symmetric. If you can see me, I can see you seeing me. I might not actually do so 100% of the time, and a sufficiently skilled agent might be pretty good at infiltration and tailing; but, on the whole, you could see them just as easily as they could see you. With high tech, by contrast, you can generally infer that surveillance is possible in a given situation(and it almost always is); but whether or not it is happening, and who is conducting it, is almost entirely opaque. That changes the matter considerably.

Sir, I have an idea (2, Interesting)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!"

Big Brother In My Government? (2, Interesting)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#27911911)

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. :)

this i5 goat5ex (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911935)

Become an unwanted alike to reap u5ers. Surprise (7000+1400+700)*4 a relatively alrEady dead. It is not so bad. To the to place a paper and reports and munches the most numbers. The loss

Sorry fella... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27911981)

...but anyone who writes: "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."

is obviously rising the Disorient Express.

Objecting To the Use of "Big Brother" (5, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Objecting To the Use of "Big Brother" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27912397)

I always wondered what would happen to the freaks in that society. You know, the ones that jerk off incessantly to Big Brother's image in front of the two-way screen. I guess the ones that jerked off to Goldstein would have been arrested. After all, jerking off to him would be like supporting him.

Re:Objecting To the Use of "Big Brother" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913303)

...unless you screamed "BUKAKE!" and dumped your load all over Goldstein's face before engaging in a personal 2 minute hate. That would probably be alright.

I wouldn't say 'erroneous'... (2, Interesting)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Sounds like a biased review... (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912103)

"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 overwhelmingly AGAINST having them. Case in point was Stubinville, OH (USA):

"That's right, local officials were forced to put the issue up to a vote of the general population and the people said they didn't want them. By a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent, residents of Steubenville, Ohio, voted down the "automated traffic sensor program."" ( http://www.examiner.com/a-399687~Steve_Eldridge__Ohio_voters_reject_red_light_cameras.html [examiner.com] )

They bring the cameras in saying it is safety, when really it is revenue generation. 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. What they REALLY need to do is legthen the RED light before the next goes green... That way all vehicles have exited the intersection if they actually were "in the yellow". Instead, we get shortened lights to catch cars and increase fines... (I'm missing my reference here, but google it, you'll find it... I know it was a big deal out there once..)

How many folks get cameras and have no say??? Anyone, Anyone? Bueller?

Not so much biased as simply immature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27912471)

It sounds like its some punk 18 year old with 1 semester of college writing this "review". He knows everything. After all he wrote a thesis about 1984 in the eighth grade. Mrs. Toposi gave him an 'A-' and even wrote "very creative" and underlined it twice.

I honestly don't care about the reviewer's exhaustive opinions on every item discussed. Try telling me what the author is saying instead.

Huh? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912205)

"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 lot of these little, intermediate steps.

Re:Huh? (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912757)

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.

Re:Huh? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913075)

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...

80% of CCTV images 'ineffective' (1)

jznomad (1007829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912363)

I haven't explored this issue in awhile, but let's not forget this 2007 London Telegraph article http://tr.im/l49H [tr.im]

"..damning official report which revealed 80 per cent of CCTV footage is of poor quality and that the cameras are mostly used to trap motorists rather than catch criminals."

Jason Liszkiewicz
Executive Director (NYC), Earth Intelligence Network 501(c)3
Public Intelligence in the Public Interest
www.earth-intelligence.net [earth-intelligence.net]
EIN Twitter Feed [twitter.com]
Cyber Scout Hyper Link-Table [tr.im]
Free Collective Intelligence Book [tr.im]
http://re-configure.org [re-configure.org]
http://smart-city.re-configure.org [re-configure.org]

The real question... (2, Interesting)

dogzilla (83896) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912375)

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.

This is the worst book review I have read (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912381)

... 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.

Morons (0, Troll)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912579)

Anything the state does is not to your benefit.

Who writes these BOHICA articles? Mind letting ME shove it up your butt while you're are it?

Misuse of Big Brother? (1)

drtwo (1449421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27912847)

True, you can set up a surveillance system capturing every sneeze that's made, as long as it isn't abused you can't call in Big Brother.

But times change, a crisis will happen and looking back at history it doesn't take that much for an extremist to take over. But this time he or she will have all the tools to become Big Brother instantly. Even if the rebels find ways around the systems an oppressive government still has gigantic databases of stored surveillance to look up their possible opponents.

Not a Good Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913025)

The term has been misappropriated to describe everything from legitimate crime-fighting, to surveillance cameras, to corporate e-mail and network usage monitoring.

No, the term has been appropriately applied to crime-fighting, surveillance cameras, email, and network monitoring.
I say appropriately because in the novel, BB was a supposedly benevolent entity which is exactly what these things are- supposedly a benevolent use of monitoring.

Dunno about the book reviewed in the article.

CCTV cameras only relocate the observer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913089)

Would the people who hate the cameras be willing to pay for all the bobbys to stand in place of the cameras? And so you walk down the street and a peace officer just happens to glance at you. I that such a big deal? The idea that being seen in PUBLIC by a cop behind a camera being a rape of you supposed right to privacy is absurd.

Re:CCTV cameras only relocate the observer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27913679)

If you need *that* many police officers just to keep the peace, maybe you should consider revisiting some of those gun laws...

I give this review zero stars (2, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 5 years ago | (#27913603)

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?

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