Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nokia to the rescue

Robert Reiner says that even though we're having a civil liberties meltdown and police are beating folks down in the street, at least we've got cameras to hold them accountable with. He even throws a bit of Foucault in so that we know he's dead brainy:

Against the main Orwellian narrative, however, there are two counter-trends, encapsulated in the Tomlinson case. The Independent Police Complaints Commission now has the power to investigate serious cases such as this one. Perhaps even more significantly, the spread of video and other recording equipment has created an informal means of opening police malpractice to public scrutiny. New surveillance technology has prompted fears of the realisation of the Benthamite dream/Foucauldian nightmare of the ever-seeing Panopticon policing the population. But the spread of video and digital cameras provides a small counter-trend, the recording of official wrongdoing by citizens, dubbed "Synopticon" by the Norwegian radical criminologist Thomas Mathiesen.

As we see the bitter fruits of the neo-liberal consensus signified by New Labour's acceptance of Thatcherite economics, and we face several likely summers and winters of discontent, the police will become increasingly embroiled in controversial political and social control tactics. Synopticon offers a fragile check on Panopticon.

Trouble is, he's a bit behind the times on the civil liberties meltdown - pointing cameras at police is illegal, Rob. At least it is if it's "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". Which I have no doubt the police will interpret really narrowly when deciding whether or not to rip cameras with incriminating evidence off people.

Update: Since Alan refuses to post anything here, I've taken to nicking stuff off his facebook page: the Department of Transport had CCTV shut down in the City of London over the G20 protests. Which was helpful, no?


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