Thursday, December 22, 2005

A N P R

Which stands for Automaic Number Plate Reader. I received notice of this from a friend in Texas (where such things are considered an invasion of privacy). This article in the Independent tells the story that soon every automobile journey will be recorded by CCTV and stored for 2 years. 1984 may have come and gone but the "Big Brother is Watching You" syndrome is alive and well in the UK.

The police, of course, stress the positive aspects of CCTV work. Why shouldn't they? Sitting in a warm, cosy, dark room watching CCTVs do their "beat" work for them is much better than actually getting out into society and being seen by the people who they serve. Which was true when "Dixon of Dock Green" ruled the TV ratings (that would be during the late 1950s) but it seems that today we fight crime from behind a computer console. It may work but do we really feel the safer for it?

The alternative argument, offered by civil libertarians, is that this entire operation is an invasion of privacy even if we admit that we are doing nothing wrong. Personally I don't see why the government needs to know what I am doing 24/7 even if I am 100% honest. But if they were to be able to reclaim a stolen automobile for me I might be prepared to change my mind. If. . .