Sunday, May 18, 2014

'Big brother is watching you'---is that all bad?

The NZ Herald published an article today about the fact that there are several thousand CCTV cameras around the city and suburbs and that there is a link between them and the police, giving the capacity to observe huge areas of territory. The Civil Liberties organization is uncomfortable about this and I suspect many NZers in general have some discomfort, however the question needs to be asked---is this necessary and would it not constitute, during ‘normal times’ an erosion of our freedom to go about our daily (Lawful) business, without the spectre of being observed 24/7? Therein lies the dilemma---‘normal times.’ What if at some future date a situation arises where people decide that they do not like the direction of the Government of the day; to the extent that actions are taken that transgress our laws? One only needs to look back the chaos of the Springbok Tour of the 1980s to see how close we came to a dangerous situation re citizens challenging the Government of the day on a daily basis. If the technology that exists now had been available then, I suspect that it would have been used to curtail the actions of the many protestors. Thankfully that time has passed, but we can never assume that such conditions would revisit us.
A balance needs to be observed and that brings up the question---who decides where that sits? Ask someone noisily protesting about one of ‘todays’ issues and I am sure they would hardly put their trust in the Government or police to keep that balance.
Then there is the question of the safety of our streets, particularly at night and especially in Central Auckland. Many Aucklanders above a certain age avoid the crazy night-time behaviours that are often alcohol and drug driven. Without a doubt, having the cameras available to monitor those abhorrent behaviours, is a plus in most peoples’ books. Similarly, the ability of these cameras, with their clear pictures and ‘face recognition’ capabilities, there is a strong possibility to solve crime and indeed to prevent it before such criminal actions actually happen. Protecting people and property is a paramount reason for favouring the CCTV presence, New Zealand wide.
I support ‘feeling safe,’ but I am slightly uncomfortable re the possibilities for this technology, if it is used  to limit our freedoms, but then again, one has to ask---which is more important? I leave that to you to decide and your answer will be informed by your personal feelings and experiences