Spy Video Cameras Bring 1984 Home


Imagine a state where the government rules with an iron first. You can do and think as you please, so long as these actions and ideas do not go against policy or officially mandated doctrine. You are subjected to some twisted psychology, too. Not only are you brainwashed to obey the totalitarian government, you are taught to love it as well. Does this scenario seem unthinkable?

This is the world British writer George Orwell portrayed in his novel, 1984. If you think, however, that fiction is the book is strictly a work of fiction used to entertain its readers, think again. Today, governments throughout the world use spy video cameras to monitor key areas, including Orwell’s former London home!

I’ll Be Watching You
Each person in Great Britain is caught on Closed Circuit Television, or CCTV cameras, about 300 times every day. The country possesses about 4.2 million of these spy video cameras. That’s about one camera for every 14 people in Great Britain! In fact, about 200 yards away from where Orwell lived until he died, over 30 CCTV cameras monitor people’s every move. An irony is that a special plaque hanging near Orwell’s home praises the author for his stance against totalitarianism.

Security Can Make You Insecure
Many London businesspeople justify the use of spy video cameras as a means of crime prevention. However, England’s Royal Academy of Engineering, or RAE, has cautioned that excessive surveillance by cameras could actually reduce safety in the country. One concern is that a national standard for CCTV cameras could inadvertently transmit data to just about anyone willing to go to extra lengths for access. Moreover, computer hackers capable of accessing the data could abuse any security system. Business employees who accept bribes could also threaten the integrity of such a standardized surveillance system. One author of the RAE’s report even argued that the installation of spy video cameras should be halted until it is proven that they are necessary.

Rear View Cameras
Today, spy video cameras are used for a variety of applications other than monitoring businesses. In Virginia, USA, a 10-year program used an army of spy video cameras as a means of traffic enforcement. These cameras catch drivers zooming through red traffic lights. Most politicians are strongly for the program because they claim it increases road safety and saves the government money. After all, road accidents, wreckage, and the messy process of trolling through debris and cleaning it up use up time, money, and valuable workforce. Opponents of the cameras, however, attack the efficiency of the system and criticize its intrusion on privacy of private citizens.

Like Britain, Like Singapore
One of the most prolific national users of spy video cameras and one of the most criticized for its usage is Singapore. This comes as no surprise to people familiar with Singapore’s history of policy-making. Singapore’s government system had, after all, been pattered after that of its former colonizer, Britain.

Singapore’s constitution does not explicitly protect an individual’s privacy. In fact, in recent decades, the Singaporean government has used spy video cameras to control opposition parties in the country and enforce societal control. In In 1986, the founder of modern Singapore justified his reasons for monitoring how citizens talked, acted, and even spit! Today, surveillance cameras in the nation are used for a variety of purposes, such as monitoring vehicular traffic, and preventing littering. While the government basically respects its citizens’ rights, it wields the authority to limit them when it believes that such is justified.

In 1948, when ‘1984’ was published, the idea that ‘Big Brother is watching’ seemed ludicrous. It seemed an idea feasible only in fiction. Today, the use of spy video cameras show just how easily technology like spy video cameras transform fiction into non-fiction.

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