Is Privacy overrated, or should we just think about it in a more balanced way?
Richard Posner (US Judge) in an opinion piece in the NY Times has responded to NY Mayor Bloomberg’s view that there should be a more welcoming attitude towards surveillance cameras. Bloomberg argues that the US Constitution should be changed to allow more surveillance. Posner makes a good point about Surveillance use in public spaces.
It seems likely that if the Boston bombers hadn’t been caught soon, they would have continued their killing, whether in Boston or NY, only they can say definitively.
I think most people can accept that surveillance cameras should be used in public spaces. They may also be contributing to a general decrease in lawlessness in public spaces, especially in the UK where there are apparently up to 4 million. The question in my mind is always about what is done with the footage. I have fewer problems personally with government agency use of surveillance in a society where somebody watches the watchers than the use by ‘marketers’ of surveillance in shops and ‘semi-private’ places.
The argument against surveillance cameras being linked up is always the fallacy of the slippery slope. I suspect we should all just get used to being watched in public.
In any case, it is probably time for politicians in democratic countries to “Suck it up” and have an honest conversation with the public about privacy, both online and offline.
PS – Of course, when Google glass becomes a mass market item, your life and mine will be 720p movies for ourselves and other people. We won’t say, remember when you were “insert embarrassing event”, we’ll just play it from the memory…. Maybe Minority Report wasn’t so wrong after all – even if Tom Cruise starred. 🙂