What are the limits of surveillance?

This is a case in point:

He has been called the “Creepy Cameraman,” and for good reason. It’s clearly more than a little unsettling for the subjects of his surveillance.

It’s not clear who the person is, or what type of camera he’s using, but technology author and blogger Brian S. Hall makes the point that this could be a preview of our future, with technology such as Google’s Project Glass making cameras and recording devices even more pervasive in our daily lives.

It certainly brings it to our attention, impinges on something in us but I’m not exactly sure what that is.   If a cameraman was on the other side of the road filming me, my instinct would be to cross the road, demand an answer and when I didn’t get it, take his equipment and hurl it into the road.

Our society was perhaps never so easily offended by filming – remember Candid Camera and such shows?   It’s just the last few years of the surveillance society I suppose and a general feeling of anger.   This is worrying me too.   Amfortas made some comment on Russia before and I found myself hitting back and then I stopped and thought – why?   He’s someone I agree on on most things.

Perhaps it’s just that we’re in a cauldron over here, something triggers it and there we are.   Perhaps this is behind the road rage which has been steadily getting worse.   Being filmed like that though would really cause me to attack and that’s not a nice trait to encourage.

There are societies where it has never been on and Russia was one of those.  They were under the camera lens for so long in the USSR that there is a natural suspicion of anyone photographing them unasked.

Maybe “unasked” is the keyword here.

8 comments for “What are the limits of surveillance?

  1. Amfortas
    November 5, 2012 at 12:30

    This sort of recording of even innocuous events is increasing and increasingly ‘official’. I find myself watching You Tube counter-strikes where individuals post their own videos of their confrontations with people who feel they are entitled by laws to film you. Police for instance.

    Many of such videos have the police complaining and ‘ordering’ the videoing chap to ‘turn that off’, yet they themselves violate the law by issuing such an ‘order’. “I don’t want to be filmed”, they complain. Yet they are all too happy with surveillance cameras everywhere that you and I have no access to, but they do.

    I have often advised men who are having difficulties with recalcitrant ex-wives, that they should carry a ‘spy-pen’ to record interactions. I am not certain of the laws in the UK but here in Oz we have section 43 of the relevant electronic recording Act which permits recording one’s own conversations without the other parties to the conversation knowing nor having given permission. Such recordings may not be shown to others unless, as per section 45, it is in pursuance of a Court case.

    I understand also that most Queensland police officers have camers in the wrist watches that they buy privately and personally, so that they can record traffic stops and enable themselves to defend against sprurious allegations.

    Of course, the Police are quite good at making up laws on the spot for you to transgress. Just look at the state of these two pillocks.


  2. Furor Teutonicus
    November 5, 2012 at 12:38

    XX my instinct would be to cross the road, demand an answer and when I didn’t get it, take his equipment and hurl it into the road.XX

    Assault and criminal damage.

    It is NOT an offence to film just who the HEL, and WHERE the Hel you like. (unless there is a specific court order, or “terrorism” related ban. (Which in themselves are juristically questionable).

  3. November 5, 2012 at 12:42

    “If a cameraman was on the other side of the road filming me, my instinct would be to cross the road, demand an answer and when I didn’t get it, take his equipment and hurl it into the road.”

    Really, James? You are in public. He’s entitled to look at you and what he’s entitled to look at, he’s entitled to photograph. You have no lawful expectation of privacy in a public place.

    I was recently taking some photos of my home from outside in the street. I was all set up with my camera and tripod. Someone emerged from a nearby house and took photographs of me photographing. I said politely “good morning, can I help you?” expecting to be asked what I was doing and perfectly ready to explain. He ignored me, took a couple more shots and ran off. I guess I should think myself lucky he didn’t trash my camera too.

  4. Amfortas
    November 5, 2012 at 12:52

    PS. In the video I posted as example, I wonder if ‘Mr Pollard’ is related to Vickie.


  5. November 5, 2012 at 13:25

    There is a thing called respect. You above all people, Tom, would know the attitude of other cultures to someone shoving a camera at them and taking shots without any permission being sought.

    I’d suggest that happysnapping of scenes on holiday is an entirely different thing to taking speicific shots of a person with a zoom or telephoto.

    While that was my instinct, by the way, I’m also aware of:

    “Assault and criminal damage.”

    In Turkmenistan, I was almost arrested. On the way down the gangplank, I took a shot of the airport. Not a good move.

    Thanks too, Amfortas.

  6. Amfortas
    November 5, 2012 at 14:02

    Yes, respect. Invest in it now as it will soon be in such short supply that its price will skyrocket.

    The ‘creepy’ chap was very intrusive although he did make the point that his unwitting targets seem not to care enough about all the ‘official’ cameras spying on them.

    Individuals can be dealt with in time honoured fashion and deterred with a few well chosen words. It is the ‘official’ creeps I worry about. They have no respect.

  7. JD
    November 5, 2012 at 15:17

    …..impinges on something in us but I’m not exactly sure what that is.
    …stealing your soul perhaps? 🙂

    If he pointed a camera at me I would smile and wave….and, if he was close enough, I might even give him a big slobbering kiss on the cheek! 🙂
    That would be more unsettling for him than an angry reaction; he has already pre-programmed himself to deal with anger but if you do the unexpected it will unnerve him.

  8. james wilson
    November 5, 2012 at 17:18

    The explosion of surveillance in the UK twenty years ago got me to thinking. The greater surveillance coincided with a greater unwillingness to commit to law enforcement. The same state which is more unwilling to address crime is more inclined to discover new crimes in old habits.

    Vast new organs of state control, such as the Department of Fatherland Security, are created so that the state is not forced to make actual decisions, as the liberal saint Franklin Delano Roosevelt did. He put Japanese-Americans in camps. Wrongly, it is true, but the nature of government wrongs has flipped entirely since that time. There is no doubt that were great resources not devoted to surveillance, standards would be back in vogue and decisions would by necessity be made, not delayed and decayed.

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