Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Security Camera, circa. 1824

(After hearing of a pick-pocket caught by a man observing through a Camera Obscura) "Whether it might be proper to erect [the Camera Obscura] in the streets of a populous city like this, and to place it under the inspection of an officer for the detection of mischief and crime, is a matter worthy of the consideration of the local authorities." - From The Glasgow Mechanics' Magazine, No. XXXII

This magazine predicted what has become a struggle for some, especially in England. The saturation of Closed Circuit Television, used by security cameras, in England has many government watchdogs calling for a reformation in their governments ways. In England there is 1 CCTV camera for every 14 people, and some of these are beginning to be equipped with microphones.

This problem, little known to most American citizens I've talked to, is something that would cause an enourmous uproar if transposed to our own country. Imagine New York City with a set of security cameras on every corner. It isn't hard to see where this could lead. The article in The Glasgow Mechanics' Magazine doesn't delve into the problems of a people who's every move is watched by its government, perhaps because of the limitations in the Camera Obscura it was examining. They saw only the potential to help, the same potential that is used as a reason or excuse to build security cameras on streetcorners.


At 4:26 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

The use of video cameras on every street corner is just beginning here in the U.S. In other places like London and Singapore there are a lot more cameras. Chinese cities are also moving in this direction. The fear of crime is one reason, but once these cameras are tied together with centrally controlled digital networks they could really change the nature of political and criminal surveillance and control. Terrorism will be the reason used to explain the need for these systems, but how they will really be used is open for speculation.


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