"It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time...You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."
- George Orwell, 1984Undoubtedly it's a little cliché and over-the-top to go running to Orwell's 1984 every time the issue of intrusive government monitoring comes about. But, hey, if the shoe fits...
A poll released yesterday shows that Americans support the increased use of public surveillance cameras by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. This disturbing data, if the poll is to be believed, shows that people are fast losing their appreciation for individual privacy.
Admittedly, for the moment this sounds fantastical and paranoid, but since my aim is to caution about potential misuse, let me clarify two things:
First, I promise I'm not one of those privacy wieners that whine about everything. You could find out a great deal about me through Google and Facebook and this blog and myriad other sources, all of which I'm aware markedly decrease my own privacy. My very use of such sources decreases my own expectations of privacy, as would the increased use of surveillance cameras. But the latter is not something I'm entering into voluntarily and is something I feel much less comfortable with.
Second, this isn't some far-off, "someday the robots will turn against us issue". Such a system already exists in central London (the "ring of steel"), and a similar setup is currently being installed in New York City. There are already plans to expand the system to other major American cities.