Christopher Lane of Coastalwatch has suggested that people who have installed web cameras should join his computer network so that "State Government" could block the feed from web cameras, by using a feature of his network. Lane is calling for ALL web cameras to be run through his system, in order to allow the State Government to block certain events from the public's scrutiny.
I find this troubling as it is yet another example of the "monopoly on sight" implicit in surveillance (oversight). Lane expressed concern that even if there is just one camera not running through his network, it might allow the public to see these events.
I find his call for such a monopoly on all camera feeds disturbing.
A society with oversight-only can create a potential conflict-of-interest in which government corruption is only "watched from above", leading to further corruption. We must have "undersight" (sousveillance) because oversight alone will simply lead to more incentive for corruption. Surveillance is a French word that means "to watch" (veiller) "from above" (sur). The closest English word is the word "oversight". The opposite of that is "sousveillance" (from the French word "sous" meaning under). If the only watching is "from above", then we have a serious problem! For thousands of years, society has been fair and balanced as the human eye was the only camera, i.e. we've lived in a sousveillance society.
For the last 50 years or so, we've been moving toward a "surveillance society" in which sight has been given to property (land or buildings). Surveillance is cameras on property, giving rise to a new form of one-sided veillance that has never before occurred in human history. But there's hope: the sousveillance renaissance brought on by wearable cameras could reverse this trend, and bring sight back to eye level.
Where would Lane's proposal end, e.g. in addition to all webcams, would he also want the State Government to be able to disable recordings that individuals make from their handheld or wearable cameras as well?
Once a government has the power to "turn off scrutiny" at will, this power will no doubt give rise to the possibility of corruption!
Lane is an acquaintance of mine, so I'm going to ask him to respond to this posting.
Here's a quote from a recent article:
The network allows emergency services to take control of the cameras, record incidents and cut the live stream to the public when a tragedy is unfolding. Mr Lane urged the State Government and council to link the last two cameras to the network to help monitoring and ensure future tragedies were not broadcast to the world. [...] "I'd like to see all the systems integrated into the safety camera network.
We don't want to have rescues like this broadcast live on air."
Hundreds of beachgoers witnessed the drowning after the man was found lying face down in a shallow gutter just metres from shore about 1.45pm.