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Surveillance Nation
June 20, 2006 2:46 AM   Subscribe

Surveillance Nation. Cameras, Cameras everywhere. Welcome to the United Kingdom.
"The UK would appear to have around 4.2m cameras in operation," says Professor Clive Norris, of Sheffield University's centre for criminological research. "That's more than anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of China. It's one for every 14 citizens."
While you're here, admire the ANPR system, that will record every journey by private car, anywhere in the country and keep the information for five years. It will be switched on this summer. Not everyone is happy.
posted by grahamwell (65 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meanwhile in the batcave

Robin: Holy gazookas, Batman ! The will track the batmobile licence plate, our secret is gone !
Batman: never worry, my young friend ! Only the criminals will be punished by this system

R: But Batman, what happens if Joker enters the database of licence plates and discovers the batcave by tracking ?
B: Balony, Robin. It's Windows Based, Diebold enforced, it's a secure system. Nobody ever hacked into secure servers
R: But Batman, what if Joker corrupts an officier to extract the information from the database ? Nobody will notice, but we will be discovered
B: Never worry, Robin. Officials are honest and would never do that ! NEVER ! Plus 9/11 changed everything, don't you know ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:32 AM on June 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


"The UK would appear to have around 4.2m cameras in operation,"

And still so little worth watching on TV.
posted by three blind mice at 3:32 AM on June 20, 2006


I think it's funny that the UK has so many CCTVs to gather evidence about property crimes. And then the law doesn't do anything to the people who commit them.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:43 AM on June 20, 2006


That's some seriously freaky and invasive stuff, but I've seen it coming for ages. The US is probably already doing it on a smaller scale and preparing for a larger scale. I've seen CCTV cameras in the US out in the middle of nowhere, even aimed down totally distant and trivial highway/freeway offramps.

Now all we need is to start sticking up cheap solar+battery powered diode lasers in various spectrums (to defeat narrow-band optical filtering) and polarity angles (to defeat polarized filtering) in discreet locations while aimed at the lenses to blind all the cameras.
posted by loquacious at 3:43 AM on June 20, 2006


I meant to add that the ANPR system, if it works as described, is incredibly fucking scary. Like take-it-to-the-streets scary.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:45 AM on June 20, 2006


It does work as described - but it also throws out a large number of false-positives (they're tuning it, so the number is falling, but in trials this number was over 40%). These false positives result in a stop-and-search - a search prompted by a computer error. This won't help you however if the subsequent search discovers something - anything.

I was alerted to this by a poignant story in Mid Wales, involving an air-gun and a court-ordered course in 'Thinking Skills'. Things are getting scary here - and we do nothing.
posted by grahamwell at 3:49 AM on June 20, 2006


That's some seriously freaky and invasive stuff, but I've seen it coming for ages.

And thanks to all their cameras, they've seen you coming too.
posted by biffa at 4:05 AM on June 20, 2006


Reciprocation also would be interesting: if officiers/cops can watch over me 24/7/365 , why can't I watch over them exactly the same way ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:11 AM on June 20, 2006


Consequences of the Panopticon

as Foucault puts it:

the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate [in this case you] into a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it...
Perhaps, the UK is a mere testing ground for good ol American entrepreneurship here at home? In any case, at home or across the pond, thars a career to be had:

Former Antiterror Officials Find Industry Pays Better:

"Dozens of members of the Bush administration's domestic security team, assembled after the 2001 terrorist attacks, are now collecting bigger paychecks in different roles: working on behalf of companies that sell domestic security products, many directly to the federal agencies the officials once helped run."


Pyramid hierachies, --both here and abroad--with limited mobility, inflict chickenshit demands and busy work on the lower ranks as a routine to keep obedience intact.

More on American Enantiodromia (things becoming their opposite):


"For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed."

“The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. ”
President John F. Kennedy
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
New York City, April 27, 1961

Of course he was referring to the Soviets , but it is clear that the current crime family cherry picks authoritarian structure and tactics from The Stasi, Hiltler's Reich, the Soviets, and Chairman Mao, how soon before they incorp the Pol Pots, Idi Amin's? And how are we going to know? As I have written before, American fascism, (we have talked about the unique difference here at MOA on fascism 2.0), is not likely to come on the form of a charismatic leader pulling the political wool over the eyes of right-thinking Americans - for that, the common sense of most American citizens will do just fine in beating it back. But it is likely to come on the form of denigrated civil liberties in the face of governmental and corporate absolutism, coupled with expanded militarism, (read Full Spectrum dominance at home and abroad) a structured class system, and an alienated, psychologically disenfranchised citizenry, among other characteristics. The day is hardly likely to come, then, when American jackboots parade down Main Street, but, ( could come in the form of no knock entry in the dead of the night) and certainly could arrive in full view by day when all government policy is centered on "national security" issues as defined by a narrow set of corporate self-interests and ideological perceptions about foreign and domestic policy, complete without any true recourse by the citizenry.

In fact, it could be argued, such a day is already close at hand. If not here by the above means.

As the saying goes, the five largest militaries in the world are always thirty years ahead in technology of what the general population and public know...

If you haven't seen what technofascism is about do look over this: Behold, it's coming! The Panopticon Singularity...

But wait! the Nov 06 elections will be here soon to save us all...
posted by Unregistered User at 4:23 AM on June 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


if the laws regarding filming public spaces are the same in the UK as in the US, id say its time for a group of people to start filming the windows of the people responsible for this mess (politicians, equipment manufacturers etc) around the clock. I bet it'd drive the point home if you periodically sent them "high light tapes"

"this is you fighting with your wife. this is her crying in the other room." "oop, here's you again with the bottle" "and again.... " "and again. what are you so unhappy about?" "combing our hair! aren't we dapper!" etc.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:26 AM on June 20, 2006


Put up your own cameras. One outside the home of each of your local politicians. One outside each of their places of business. Put them in vehicles legally parked, on borrowed or rented property (find a neighbor friendly to your cause), in the hands of picketers, etc. Put the results on the web, with notes and transcriptions. "This is Mayor X going out with an unidentified woman. They return two hours later." "Here is Mayor Brown's daughter Mandy [girl shown staggering] coming home at 3:00 AM." "Here is the home (123 Broad St, Ourtown) of Councillor Jane Doe, one of the people who voted to track every move you make." "Here is a menu of all police officers in your town. Select one to monitor an officer's home."
posted by pracowity at 4:27 AM on June 20, 2006


Oh, you win, Tryptophan-5ht.
posted by pracowity at 4:27 AM on June 20, 2006


oooh, on the web too! good idea.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:30 AM on June 20, 2006


"The UK would appear to have around 4.2m cameras in operation,"

And still so little worth watching on TV.


Not everyone agrees...
posted by Orange Goblin at 4:33 AM on June 20, 2006


The funny thing is people don't realize just how many cameras are in the US. 4.2 million? Drop in the bucket.

See, in the UK, they have to tell you when cameras are running. They don't in the US, and they are everywhere. Heck, the overt ones -- behind the grey hemispheres, are enough.

A good paper on spotting the other ones.
posted by eriko at 4:39 AM on June 20, 2006


Thanks to bringing this up, fascinating stuff. I'm a big fan of British mystery novels and shows. I can see how with detectives like Inspector Morse and Jack Frost investigating crimes, you'd need all these cameras. Please flame me now. (Don't feed the troll) I hope individual civic-minded citizens like Miss Marple and Hetty Wainthrop will be allowed access to the databases, as well, since the police don't seem able to handle the workload. May as well flame me now. (Don't feed the troll) Someday perhaps eccentric, troubled profilers like Fitz and Dr. Tony Hill will be able pinpoint criminals without being forced to examine evidence or search a vast network of records on individual citizens. Until then, let's give DI Jane Tennyson a break, so she doesn't crack under the pressure of being a tough dedicated lady trying to prove herself by being twice as good as the cops around her in a man's domain, and having to sacrifice any meaningful personal life in the process. I am ready to be set alight, now. (Don't feed the troll)
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 4:42 AM on June 20, 2006


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.—Blair, 1948.
I am perplexed that there is not more resistance to this in the UK, such as the fuss that gets kicked up every time there’s a proposal to introduce ID-cards: does everyone care about watching Big Brother more than being watched by him?
posted by misteraitch at 4:50 AM on June 20, 2006


And yet all this Orwellian monitoring was instituted by exactly the kind of centre-left government Democrats in the USA dream about. Be careful what you wish for.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:02 AM on June 20, 2006


One of the things I've always felt that should be on the cyberlibertarian's wishlist is an affordable, wearable, networked PVP (personal video protection) camera.

Something robust, encrypted, broad-spectrum and durable. It should be nontrivial to jam by being multimodal - be it cell, WLAN, spread spectrum radio, amatuer radio, or even capable of technologies like store-and-forward line-of-sight optical burst mode data transmission - and however many other communications modes we could cram into it.

It should be small, light and non-physically invasive. It should broadcast always/whenever possible to multiple securely encrypted storage-and-rebroadcast servers and mirrors around the globe.

It should also have a panic button that flags the broadcast segment and alerts a network of peers when abuses of authority or even when non-authority-abuse crimes are occuring.

It should also be able to be securely turned on or off by the owner, and the owner alone.

It should be easy to use, uncomplicated in daily use, but feature-packed and customizable, intelligent and programmable.

Simple enough to hand out to luddites, but complex enough to program for specific tasks - say automatically recording badge numbers, or taking pictures of a specific shade of blue or black, or using audio cues as triggers and flags.

Also, I've used up my hyphen-quota for the month and I'm prattling on like the mutant cloned lovechild of Neal Stephenson, Theo de Raadt and Bruce Schneier.
posted by loquacious at 5:05 AM on June 20, 2006


> I am perplexed that there is not more resistance to this in the UK, such as the fuss that gets kicked up every time there’s a proposal to introduce ID-cards

Isn't it the case that any resistance to ID cards is generated by an opposing party than the people? From my perspective as a British citizen, all I see of the public is the acceptance that everything is lost, and there is no point complaining about things that won't be changed. This is particularly true following the record-breaking anti-war marches.

Big Brother also has record-breaking figures this time around. Low ones though, thank f*ck.
posted by catchmurray at 5:08 AM on June 20, 2006


pracowity-tryptophan: yeah one could turn the camera against the controller and show how immoral the moralizer really is, thus showing that privacy can be valuable and that a big-brother isn't a good idea.

Yet I think your point rest on the same error of the bloggers who think they are the big media, the million-people reacher super influencer. A picture of Prime Minister harassing a little girl will be covered by a flood of otherwise interesting content ; should it reach some mass of audience the usual spin heads will spin it as "Prime Minister protecting children" and the photoshopper will touch up the photo ; exactly like now, a minority will understand all the tricks behind the scene, the majority will accept it at face value as perpetual disbelief is stressing and not entertaining.

My point being scandal may overturn a couple idiot "leaders", but not the system itself : the next one will be a lot more careful not be get caught with smoking gun or a law will be enacted to exclude representative, a kind of additional immunity.

For instance right now a scandal is sweeping italy, with the son of our democratically kicked out king showing the world how little a worm he is , exploiting prostitutuion , stealing money, bribing officials , generally making a misery of everything he touches and by proxy showing how corrupt and decadent power can be. That is fine and good, yet that doesn't overturn the abuse itself, only an abuser every now and then.
posted by elpapacito at 5:11 AM on June 20, 2006


And yet all this Orwellian monitoring was instituted by exactly the kind of centre-left government Democrats in the USA dream about.

Be fair -- Maggie Thatcher was also big on this -- remember the "Ring of Steel?" -- but the tech cost more and was harder to use.

The real problem -- US and UK -- is fear. We've been taught to be cowards. You can't let your kids walk to school, there are child abusers everywhere. Every day you get told about all the crime and death around you. We're at war, you know. Commies Terrorists are everywhere.

We've taught the US population to be cowards, and that's how they're acting.
posted by eriko at 5:12 AM on June 20, 2006


Catchmurray, there is the NO2ID group that is quite active in opposing the ID card scheme and the associated National Identity Register.
posted by movilla at 5:24 AM on June 20, 2006


Yes Movilla, but do either carry any real sway at all?
posted by catchmurray at 5:38 AM on June 20, 2006


it's the logical reponse to the possibility of peak oil and the end of the automobile age - put cameras on all the highways ... and while we're in an age that will likely see continued cuts of government spending get an expensive system of surveillance that we won't be able to afford the manpower to monitor ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:13 AM on June 20, 2006


pyramid termite writes "we won't be able to afford the manpower to monitor ..."

Ah ! Never worry , we will outsource to china
posted by elpapacito at 6:21 AM on June 20, 2006


Plus 9/11 changed everything, don't you know ?

This is a continuation of a long trend in Britain, which I believe started in resposne to IRA terrorism. This was also one of the prime original inspirations for V for Vendetta.
posted by jefgodesky at 6:27 AM on June 20, 2006


From the paper on detecting cameras that eriko links:
Wireless transmission is not the only way to transmit video signals without installing any additional cables [84]. The video signal can be transmitted by means of unused
power wiring or telephone lines.[...]

Conductors do not necessarily need to be wires. Keep an eye on anything conductive that is not implicitly grounded. Even drain pipes that contain water should be measured. In an experimental setup video signals were successfully transmitted by means of an iron banister that extended across three floors, without using any additional amplifiers.
posted by Chuckles at 6:37 AM on June 20, 2006


There's a great film by Rebecca Baron about this and about the history of photography and surveillance in England, called How Little We Know of Our Neighbors. It especially focuses on Mass Observation, a social anthropology movement of the 1930s that enlisted thousands of volunteers to covertly conduct "observation" in their communities.
posted by jann at 6:37 AM on June 20, 2006


"The UK would appear to have around 4.2m cameras in operation,"

and whenever plainclothes cops shoot unarmed brown-skinned people in the face, seven times, all 4.2m cameras stop recording, simultaneously. you try that, David Blaine
posted by matteo at 7:11 AM on June 20, 2006


Be fair -- Maggie Thatcher was also big on this -- remember the "Ring of Steel?" -- but the tech cost more and was harder to use.

Ah but Thatcher would've done it for evil purposes, whereas Blair is doing it "for our own good", which frankly is much much worse because people don't see why it's a bad thing. After all, it's for our own good!

If Blair started openly being evil, he'd be kicked out just like the Conservatives were in 1997. The fact that he acts all nice and fluffy is the most dangerous thing about him and all those who pretend to be liberals.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:25 AM on June 20, 2006


I haven't heard of it yet, but I've been expecting taggers to start spraying over camera lenses for a while now.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:29 AM on June 20, 2006


sonofsamiam writes "I've been expecting taggers to start spraying over camera lenses for a while now."

Maybe, but one needs to see the lens to tag it and man lens can be small and in very uncomfortable or well protected places.
posted by elpapacito at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2006


I'd like to point out that some brits are taking matters into their own hands and dynamiting, burning, and smashing surveillance cameras.

Of course, it's only the traffic photo-radar cameras, and only because they get speeding tickets, but still. :)
posted by anthill at 7:57 AM on June 20, 2006


And if you're serious about beating the system it's very simple.
posted by grahamwell at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2006


The department admits that car cloning will remain a serious problem until plates with embedded microchips that can be read by roadside beacons are in use. Trials are under way.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:09 AM on June 20, 2006


SECURE BENEATH THE WATCHFUL EYES
posted by cenoxo at 8:10 AM on June 20, 2006


TBH It's not nearly as shitty as the ID card scheme. Now that *would* get me really ticked off. A few cameras? Not so much.
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on June 20, 2006


"Reciprocation also would be interesting: if officiers/cops can watch over me 24/7/365 , why can't I watch over them exactly the same way ?"


You'll get arrested. You're on the wrong end of highly entrenched and powerful double standards. Videoing you is legitimate. You videoing anyone is harassment. Judges take a very dim view of people who attempt surveillance on cops, politicians, spooks etc.

(And in the later two cases, the machinery of national security are often (ab)used to really fuck you over. You can't fight in court when the courts defer to "we don't need to present a case, because of national security", if you even get as far as court.)

Seriously, this isn't a two way street. Though it's useful for people to assume against all caselaw that they are equal under the law - it keeps them complacent.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:15 AM on June 20, 2006


This system will really shine when they put RFID into driver's licenses. (Yes, I know those link to articles describing legislatures striking down RFID in licenses, but let's face it, it's just a matter of time. RFID is already going into new U.S. passports.)

With RFID coupled to video surveillance, they can quickly identify you on camera and follow you around. They can even maintain records of your whereabouts! Hopefully the government will be able to tie this into your credit report, voter registration, phone records and internet use. SSN makes a rather nice primary key, don't you think?

Only then will the State be able to protect us from all that liberty terrorism.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:16 AM on June 20, 2006


England is the counter example for libertarian paranoia. Despite strict gun control laws, no written bill of rights, and cameras every couple of feet, and all kinds of things that Americans would never allow, the English enjoy a safe and civil society, democratic government, and personal freedom.
posted by LarryC at 8:20 AM on June 20, 2006


Well, I wouldn't live in England. Certain things are just important to me on general principles, whether or not they directly influence in my day to day life.

I have never owned a gun, for instance. I would obtain one if they were made illegal.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:24 AM on June 20, 2006


I don't like destruction of property, expecially if it is mine. On the other hand rendering the camera useless, for instance by spray paint, would require cleaning yet it wouldn't fall into vandalism.

grahamwell writes "beating the system it's very simple."

Actually that's worse ! Read carefully
The department admits that car cloning will remain a serious problem until plates with embedded microchips that can be read by roadside beacons are in use. Trials are under way.

WHAT ? So let me see

1) department know it is useless..unless microchip, YET their recommend breakeable plates as a temporary measure. Temporary my ass they are expensive.
2) department suggest a car with embedded chip , so that they will not need any camera you can see to track you..wireless tracking , you don't even know if you are being watched over !

It's the idea of the "necessity" of making you trackable, no matter what may be the cost to you, that is outrageous. Surely the counter objection will be that it could be used to prevent crimes and track criminals, but the argument that it can be used to commit crimes is disregarded or dismissed as "unrealistic" . So first the whole system is built and implemented at a ridicolous high price, then it is correctly found to be inherently insecure and that potential for abuse is extreme, so it's switched off.

Or it is not switched off , it's kept under "seal" that are as hard as the will to make the system sealed and information will happily leak into private databases without any kind of control possible.
posted by elpapacito at 8:25 AM on June 20, 2006


Our local library recently introduced self-checkout using RFID book scanning. Convenient and fast, but unsettling. Apart from the investment in hardware and software, it costs about $1.00 to tag a book.

Library RFID^ systems are vulnerable:
It is possible to compromise an RFID system by wrapping the protected material in two to three layers of ordinary household foil to block the radio signal. Clearly, bringing household foil into a library using RFID would represent premeditated theft, just as bringing a magnet into a library using EM technology would be.
...
It is also possible to compromise an RFID system by placing two items against one another so that one tag overlays another. That may cancel out the signals. This requires knowledge of the technology and careful alignment.
...
The author found no evidence of removal in the libraries he visited, nor did any of the library administrators contacted by telephone report a problem. That does not mean that there won’t be problems when patrons become more familiar with the role of the tags.
As we all become more familar with our respective roles, will convenience will push us over the edge?
posted by cenoxo at 8:52 AM on June 20, 2006


I have never owned a gun, for instance. I would obtain one if they were made illegal.

So if jumping in the fire was made illegal tommorow you would be first in?

the one thing about the English laws, as I understand it, is that although we are increasingly spied upon we can request footage of ourselves if we think we may have been captured on cctv.

If everyone was to demand that copies of their activities be shown to them surely that may send a powerful message to those who insist on prying on our lives? (probably not, they'd just prohibit access to the footage in future... but it's worth a try)
posted by twistedonion at 8:53 AM on June 20, 2006


So if jumping in the fire was made illegal tommorow you would be first in?

Your people have much to teach us about the many similarities between apples and oranges.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2006


Your people have much to teach us about the many similarities between apples and oranges.

True, you'll kill yourself if you jump in a fire.
posted by twistedonion at 9:00 AM on June 20, 2006


Maybe I should just get a flamethrower.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:01 AM on June 20, 2006


Though it's dated -- written when all this was just getting started in the UK -- David Brin's The Transparent Society is good reading on the subject. In a nutshell, he describes two cities, one in which only the authorities can view the cameras, and one in which everyone can. I'm not sanguine about either, but he makes a very good case for city two.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:01 AM on June 20, 2006


If the road into the future is lined with cameras, let's back up a bit: The Dead Past^, by Isaac Asimov.
posted by cenoxo at 9:07 AM on June 20, 2006


What loquacious sed.

/pick up a crossbow sonofsamiam - goes right through body armor at a good distance and is nice and quiet. If guns are made illegal, I’ll be expending most of my ordinance that day. Probably at the ATF. But firearms won’t help against cameras.
...well, rifles might. Still, I like the idea of blinding them.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:25 AM on June 20, 2006


I remember Alan Moore saying that when he wrote V for Vendetta, he thought the idea of britain putting cameras everywhere was the most horrible thing he could think of, because it would be the lynchpin in fascist control of the country, and enable worse crimes against the people. Now, that's exactly what they have, along with a bullshit war against terror. A paranoid (or cautious) man would wonder what's next, and whether or not we in the US are too far behind (or even behind at all?).
posted by shmegegge at 9:49 AM on June 20, 2006


FWIW Guns are not illegal in the UK, just strictly controlled and comparitively rare. Looking at the stats it's hard to argue that's a bad thing.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2006


you know, bowling for columbine (which I hated, thanks to the morbid treatment moore gave that poor girl whose picture he left on heston's doorstep.) made an impressive argument for where gun-related violence really comes from. He pointed to canada, which has gun control, but less strictly than we do. Far more canadians own guns than americans do, and they have a miniscule amount of gun related violence compared to us.

It's easy to draw correlations between gun control laws and the amount of gun related violence that happens in a country, but it's just more complex than that.
posted by shmegegge at 10:45 AM on June 20, 2006


Lets hear it for tony blair!

The US isn't nearly that bad yet, and I doubt it will be in the next 20 years. Unlike the NSA wiretaps, which were done in secret something like this would have to be done out in the open, and would never pass congress, just as the NSA wiretapping program did not (back when it was known as TIA)
posted by delmoi at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2006


all kinds of things that Americans would never allow

Ever been to Las Vegas? It makes the UK look like an anarchist's paradise.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2006


That argument about Canada having more guns per capita than the U.S. always rang false to me. When I would visit friends in the States, you'd see guns on the wall, guns in the display case (in the living room and/or dining room), and they'd let you know there were guns under the bed as well. In Canada, where I've lived my whole life, I have *never* seen anything *remotely* like that. Anyone here that had a gun kept it locked up at the shooting range, and so far as I can tell it never left there.

I can only surmise that by "per capita" he meant that there are a lot of Canadians living up north who have rifles and stuff for hunting (whereas the vast majority of Canadians live in the south, very close to the border). But Moore paints the picture that people in cities have guns just like they do in the States, and that just isn't so. According to our Department of Justice -

The US has over three times the number of guns per capita as Canada; the number of handguns per capita is 63.3 times higher. The rate of murders with firearms in the US is eight times higher than Canada; there were 549 homicides in Canada in 1998, compared to 17,874 in the US. Americans are twice as likely to commit suicide with a firearm as Canadians. In addition, murders without guns are almost twice as high in the US. Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada (Kwing Hung), June 2001

Oh, and BTW I lock my doors when I go outside.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2006


Ever been to Las Vegas? It makes the UK look like an anarchist's paradise.

Ah, but now you're talking money. No need to travel far — Las Vegas may be coming soon to a store near you:
Wal-Mart's data center remains mystery

According to one consumer activist, Katherine Albrecht [SpyChips.Com], even the wildest conspiracy buff might be surprised at just how much Wal-Mart knows about its customers - and how much more it would like to know.

"We were contacted about two years ago by somebody who runs a security company that had been asked in a request for proposals for ways they could link video footage with customers paying for their purchases," Albrecht said. "Wal-Mart would actually be able to view photos and video of customers paying, say, for a pack of gum. At the time, it struck me as unbelievably outlandish because of the amount of data storage required."

But Wal-Mart, according to a 2004 New York Times article, had enough storage capacity to contain twice the amount of all the information available on the Internet. For the technically minded, the exact amount was for 460 terabytes of data.
...
At Brockton, Mass., Albrecht said, the company used a surveillance camera on a shelf that was linked to chips in packages of razor blades. When someone picked up a package, she said, the shelf camera would be activated. Another camera would take a mug shot of the customer at the checkout stand.

At Broken Arrow, Okla., she said, the company linked devices in packages of lipstick that triggered a camera that allowed the lipstick manufacturer to watch consumers on live video.
Convenience and profit are irresistible forces.
posted by cenoxo at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2006


The US isn't nearly that bad yet, and I doubt it will be in the next 20 years. posted by delmoi at 12:01 PM PST on June 20

Really? In the Washington DC metro area, there are cameras on very many traffic lights, and that number is increasing every day. There are hundreds of traffic cameras on the highways around and through the city.

And don't forget about all the privately owned cameras in businesses, ATM machines, apartment buildings, hotels, etc. The difference between the US and the UK is that the government doesn't own all the cameras here.

But that doesn't matter. Drivers are already letting insurance companies monitor their driving using on-board computers and GPS. How hard would it be for the government to get that data. Hell, the government owns the roads those cars drive on, it's not a stretch to demand access to the information already collected about how drivers are using those roads.

The search engine subpoena stories, the NSA internet backbone wiretapping and NSA phone records scandals prove that if the government wants access to those private databases, data traffic, or cameras, that already exist today in private hands they will get it.

I used to share your optimism about Congress, namely Republicans, protecting fundamental rights. But to the government, information is valuable, your fundamental rights aren't.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:12 PM on June 20, 2006


Let me refine my point above a little more. In 20 years it will make no difference whether it's private corporations or the government that collects data about you. The data will be collected. Moving the info around will be a matter of rubber stamping some paperwork.

Unless there are laws in place preventing the state (and private entities) from combining certain kinds of data, then corporate data and government data will form a cohesive whole.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2006


the number of handguns per capita is 63.3 times higher. The rate of murders with firearms in the US is eight times higher than Canada;

There, you see? In the U.S. we have kinder, gentler handguns. A Canadian handgun is almost eight times as likely to be used in a murder as an American handgun. Our handguns are downright cuddly compared to theirs.

N.B. I would not be surprised to see someone use this exact argument with a straight face.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2006


Everytime I think about moving back across the ocean, a story like this pops up and dissuades me.

I know many people in the UK that this doesn't bother at all, but the idea of being on a camera everywhere I go creeps me out to no end.
posted by madajb at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2006


The difference between the US and the UK is that the government doesn't own all the cameras here.

er... most of the cameras in the UK are not owned by the goverment either, surely?
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2006


Is the NSA spying on U.S. Internet traffic? Salon exclusive: Two former AT&T employees say the telecom giant has maintained a secret, highly secure room in St. Louis since 2002. Intelligence experts say it bears the earmarks of a National Security Agency operation
posted by homunculus at 9:30 PM on June 20, 2006


So...you anti-gun folks feel safer with the cameras then?

Seriously, there is appaling ignorance as to the use of firearms in those kinds of arguments. One could argue appaling ignorance on the part of some firearm owners.
But it's like arguing about banning drills.

If drills are banned, only criminals will have drills.
Drills kill more people than blah blah blah.

I don't see how a firearm is an appropriate tool in this situation. The best you could hope for is dying well. They'd have footage of you buying the weapon. They'd know where your car is, they know where you live, etc.
A proficiency in firearms would have to be coupled with technological savvy and/or mobility to get any useful result.
Alternatively you could vote against the placement of cameras everywhere with a bullet - literally as in shooting them down or assassinating politicians who favor it.
Either method seems risky.

I favor the use of firearms in opposing unjust or corrupt government forces, but given this as a scenario it renders them moot. Either you shoot the cops and more cops come (and they track you anywhere you go) or they shoot you down weapon or no weapon and the cameras (for some bizarre million to one reason) don't capture it.

Of course, that's in the city or 'burbs. They're not going to pepper the trees with cameras.

So...anyone know how to tool papers?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:41 AM on June 21, 2006


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