Tuesday, 6 October 2009

CCTV gameshow

Just come from the Jeremy Vine Show where I was asked to talk about the latest crazy CCTV invention, which really is unbelievable. ‘Internet Eyes’, a new business which launched today, is to pass on live CCTV footage to members of the public who can win up to £1,000 a month if they spot crimes being committed.

Suspecting the police would find this as ridiculous and disturbing as I do, before I went on the show I called a police contact who used to run a CCTV network. “I can’t imagine any public body in their right minds would get involved in something like that. Transferring responsibility for policing to a game-show has to be a complete no-no,” he told me.

Public bodies are not involved in this, only businesses which are gullible enough to pay for the so-called service, creating a steady stream of income for the businessman behind the idea, apparently a former restaurant owner. While I was on the show it was clear that the idea was unravelling and it was almost universally panned by callers.

What I find most disturbing about the scheme, quite apart from the fact that anybody would actually sign up to it, is how it illustrates the link between the growing commercialisation of security and technology, which is an important theme in the book. It is also distasteful that this cross between reality TV and vigilantism is dressing itself up as civic responsibility. I can almost imagine late night cable TV channels interspersing CCTV footage with over-excited adverts about how ‘you too can win £1,000.’ Fortunately, I think privacy issues and questions over putting this type of footage in the public domain would restrict this. They may well fell this outfit too.


  1. And they say crime doesn't pay? I don't know what scares me the most, the morons prepared to watch hours of grainy images of the high street in the hope of spotting a pick-pocket or the crooks who will no doubt get a kick out of trying to beat the contestants of the game. Orwell will be turning in his grave.

  2. The American security specialist Bruce Schneier has written extensively on the ridiculousness of CCTV. Check out www.shneier.com/blog/. CCTV is just one aspect of the 'security theatre' in modern life, where security measures which stick out like a sore thumb are preferred to initiatives which might actually make us safer. The motive is a mixture of profit and political expediency -- like the stupid 'Internet Eyes' scheme you mention Anna.

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