Seems more than a few government officials have become wannabe photographers. And they make the worst Paparazzi slinking around in the bushes to get embarrassing, candid photos of celebrities look like a saint. At least the Paparazzi stands by his camera…. whereas the government is busy disguising their cameras to look like street lamps, or claiming they are being used to monitor traffic flows, or protect us.
This could almost be believed were it not for some other factors evaluated at the same time. There are currently over 30 million government surveillance cameras in the United States shooting 4 billion feet of footage of law abiding American citizens each week and the number is growing daily. Despite now routine monitoring of the every day actions and communications of normal, hard working American citizens to “protect us”, the same government refuses to stop known international terrorists from crossing the Mexican American border, or even police it well. Protection from crime doesn’t even appear to be the objective. Several months back, there were about a dozen bank robberies in Denver in the span of a couple of weeks. While each of these was committed under the watchful eye of the cameras, the cameras did nothing to prevent the robbery spree from continuing.
And as the number or surveillance cameras soars, crackdowns on private citizens and professional photographers taking pictures in public grow proportionately. Don’t make the mistake of taking a photo of a power plant or oil rig (I’ll tell you the stories someday). Many examples of crackdowns on photography in public exist, the most jarring being in France (who also watches the movement of its citizens), when the passed a law making it a crime for anyone other than a journalist registered with the government to photograph a violent act occurring in public!
This brings to mind the Rodney King beatings and trials. Without video shot by a citizen, this act of police brutality would have gone unnoticed.
We can’t afford to ignore this invasion of our privacy. Many say if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. This is true, unless, like in the case of Germany an entire segment of the population is targeted due to their beliefs or origin (the Jews). And the cameras are just the first step. Many photographers are now using image recognition software to scour the net looking for copyright violations. The government is doing the same with the images captured in the cameras, instantly cross referencing them against FBI and Interpol databases, and when the program is put in, your national ID card (drivers license).
We are left with the questions of “Who is watching the watchers?” and “Who are they actually watching?”