I had to study Nineteen Eighty-Four in high school and that freaked me out enough knowing that ‘Big Brother’ was watching society as much as it was. So when I had my lecture this week and learnt that I’m being watched more than what I thought, I was surprised to say the least. I went out the night after the elector and now I’m Paranoid Parrot, I counted in one spot 5 cameras pointing in the same spot in the Wollongong CBD. Why???
Being filmed by CCTV isn’t the issue for me, what is the problem is how that footage is being used. To get images of yourself that have been filmed in a public place, the amount of paperwork you have to fill out isn’t really worth it.
There has been an almost cult like backlash against CCTV. What started in Berlin with activists vandalising CCTV cameras and grafting their symbol and message everywhere, has turned into a worldwide trend. Is that really effective though?
The anxiety of the footage of what the activists are doing being shown to the public does not seem to concern them. But for the general public, for you, what would your worries be if the media got ahold of all the footage filmed of you in one day and aired that? On average a person is filmed 15 separate times per day. Multiply that for a year and there is hours and hours of footage floating around of you.
Take for example the case of the ‘Out of Control’ footage, Wollongong’s gone wild apparently. It’s meant to be full of drunks, violent thugs and grown men pulling hair like a 13 year old girl in the school playground. Two years with of footage from CCTV cameras around the Crown Street Mall in Wollongong’s CBD were cut down to approximately five minutes and then labeled to be drunken incidents spanning from just two months. It was a political move from the N.S.W Police Association to get more funding, and by realising the video a month out of the election, they got a major reaction and then the funding and attention they so obviously wanted from creating a state of moral panic.
With the police having the power to do this, how much does the state repress our rights through the use of the media; and in this case; surveillance? The ideology that the media informs us, but when the media informs us wrongly and with a bias, how does that change our protection from lies and manipulation? From the misuse of the power of having certain access to footage that the general public doesn’t, to using that footage incorrectly is being watched really benefitting anyone? CCTV cameras are meant to be there to protect and prevent crime, but if the people meant to be enforcing that are the ones committing the crime, where does that leave us?