Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 06:57:10 MDT

On Sun, Apr 02, 2000 at 03:24:20PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> This is why I state that such technology is USELESS without an overall
> total surveillance system that covers the entire surface of the earth.
> Without a Big Brother syste, the alleged increase in crime fighting that
> surveillance provides is ephemeral, or easily countered.

It's being installed today, in the UK, with widespread public
support. (Not from me, I should like to add.) It's fallible, sure,
but with the best part of a million surveilance cameras a year being
installed in public places (and a lot of the monitoring outsourced
to private companies, and funded by insurance premium reductions)
it's eminently economically practical. Add the current Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Bill (with its draconian key-disclosure clauses),
public paranoia about porn, paedophilia, poor policing, and privacy
(this is the culture that invented the net curtain, remember) and you
have a mostly-working prototype of the universal surveilance society.

Hint: the fact that the UK is highly urbanized helps, as does the
existence of a large, socially conservative middle class element
who have been left feeling insecure by the rapidity of social change
since 1979. The USA is lagging a long way behind the UK in this trend.
(Note also that Scotland, with its different legal system from England &
Wales, is lagging behind the south in trashing privacy rights. Guess
who saw this coming some years ago and moved to Scotland?)

Any time you want to check out a total surveilance society in the
embryonic phase, hop on a plane for Heathrow airport. Catch the train
into London, then get on a double-decker bus. Sit on the top deck, and
keep your eyes on the buildings -- you need to be looking about ten feet
above ground level if you want to maximize your camera count. If you're
feeling particularly dilligent, map your distance travelled and add an
extra camera for every shop (coverage is over 90% in most shopping areas
now, and some local authorities won't grant planning permission for a new
retail development unless it includes CCTV surveilance).

This isn't fantasy. This has already happened, in a city I used to live

-- Charlie

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