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Letters to The Editor

Questions Concerning British Street Surveillance


http://educate-yourself.org/lte/britishstreetsurveillance18sep07.shtml
September 18, 2007

Questions Concerning British Street Surveillance (Sep. 18, 2007)

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim
To: Editor
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Subject: Allies Contact Sheet

Hi,

I read with interest your comments on UK CCTV [closed circuit TV] cameras:

"UK's Big Brother has installed loudspeakers next to their ubiquitous surveillance cameras. When someone drops a gum wrapper on the street in London, a policeman comes on the loudspeaker and tells that person to pick it up."

I wonder whether you could point me to some evidence of this claim. I live in the UK and my brother lives in London, and I've never heard of anything like this. There was a *proposal* a while back to put microphones in the cameras, which I agree is rather Big-Brotherish, but I've heard nothing about
loudspeakers. Perhaps some confusion?

Cheers,

Jim

***

Hi Jim,

There were a couple of people from London who told me of first hand experiences.

In one case, a man said his sister worked for the people who monitor the surveillance cameras and she verified the microphones and street speakers. Of course, that doesn't mean that they are installed everywhere. It may only apply to certain areas.

In another case, a person heard someone being chastised by the police (?) or whoever for some minor infraction on the street. Here in the US, many police cars are equipped with loud speaker systems and the police will occasionally use it with motorists, but usually they don't, so unless you heard it yourself, you may not know that they have that capability. I presume the same goes for your area.

Also, I'm sure the British government doesn't want the general public to know about the microphones and speakers at this time, less the public get aroused by overt displays of Big Brother.

Do not assume that microphones were not installed with the street cameras just because there is a public debate about it or public approval has not yet been obtained. Do you realize how tiny a state-of-the-art microphone is? Do you think they would wait until the public approved and THEN go through the labor and expense of installing microphones after the fact? No way, those microphones were installed right along with the camera the first time around. .

You have to recognize that the cameras themselves ARE Big Brother. The national ID card IS Big Brother. The mandatory registration at airports of name, address, phone number etc. in order to fly into the United States IS Big Brother. The monitoring of your e-mail, phone calls, computer usage, etc. IS Big Brother. The around-the-clock monitoring and surveillance of ordinary British citizens in ordinary life activities IS Big Brother.

These actions aren't "Big Brotherish", they ARE Big Brother. The idea is to implement these control mechanisms gradually, but they do it continuously, so you will ACCLIMATE and accept these impositions on your liberty and privacy as "normal".

You are a frog in a pot of water and there is a low flame burning beneath you. In time, you will recognize the grave danger you are in, but it will be too late to do anything about it.

Kind Regards, Ken

***

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim
To: <pitari@peoplepc.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Allies Contact Sheet

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your reply. These reports are interesting, but hardly convincing - CCTV cameras have to be installed, serviced and monitored, which must require quite a lot of staff to know the details of how they operate. Secrety installing microphones or loudspeakers into even a fraction of CCTV cameras would therefore mean a lot of people knowing about it, so one would assume that convincing evindence would be found fairly soon. In order to keep the whole operation secret, hundreds of people would have to be keep quiet about it. The Gov't has a hard enough time getting people to keep secrets when that's an inherent part of their job, let alone persuading ordinary workmen and such to do so. I really can't see how the Gov't could do this. Exposing it would be easy - a workman just has to take a picture of one of the modified cameras or copy the plans or work orders and send them to the press, and bingo.

I completely agree that the British Gov't has a scary fondness for things like CCTV and ID cards, but I really don't see the kind of organized malevolence that you do. I'm sure they'd *like* to gather as much data as possbile about everyone and pour it into some big computer system, but that's a natural tendency of all governments, not evidence of a large-scale conspiracy. Looking at our government's record on large IT systems, it'd be impossible for them to do even a tenth of what people are afraid of and actually have it work. Of course that doesn't mean we should lie down and accept things like ID cards - it's the principle that matters rather than the actual potential for harm.

Generally big brother type measures are brought in with the stated intention of combatting some widely-feared problem, like paedophiles or drug dealers or terrorists, then later start being used against all and sundry. I think this is what's really going on - the Gov't is forced to ``do something'' in the face of tabloid bogeymen causing public outcry about some emotive issue which they can't actually do anything substantial about, so they do something which grabs headlines, like banning handguns or starting a register of all children in the UK (scary but true!). These things are a real danger to our civil liberties and need to be fought vigorously, but the central feature of them all is that they're brought in in a blaze of publicity - the Gov't thinks they'll be popular measures so they shout about them as much as possible. I can't see why they would want to do something like this in secret; why spend money to combat crime without telling people? There's no votes in that...

Even if you don't accept this argument, the very idea of secretly installing loudspeakers is surely rather absurd - the whole point is that people hear what the loudspeaker tells them, which completely defeats the secrecy. They could go to all the trouble and expense of secrety fitting these loudspeakers and hiring the staff to man them, then as soon as they actually start using them it's all public knowledge anyway, so they might as well have done it openly - and more cheaply - to begin with.

cheers,

Jim

***


----- Original Message -----
From: Jim
To: <pitari@peoplepc.com>
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2007
Subject: Re: Allies Contact Sheet

Hi Ken,

I was rather surprised to find that you've posted my message and your reply on your website, but not my response to that. Did you get that mail? I'll assume you didn't and restate the main point briefly: the very idea of installing *secret* louspeakers in CCTV cameras is absurd because the whole point of a loudspeaker is to talk to people. A secret loudspeaker would not be secret very long!

cheers,

Jim

***

Dear Jim,

I look forward to reading - and posting- your apology.

LA Times Article Confrims Ken Adachi's Claim of British Loudspeakers (Oct. 23, 2007)
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/londonwatchingTVmonitors19oct07.shtml

Cheers, Ken


 

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