Last week we had the revelation that CCTV has failed to cut crime.

Now we learn that Google is adding a whole new dimension to its mapping technology with its controversial Street View service coming to Europe.

I can’t help feeling slightly more comfortable with CCTV on virtually every street corner than a global corporation tracking our movements in such detail.

The telling part of the criticism of CCTV levelled last week was the fact it was clear that despite the massive financial investment in equipment, very little thought has ever gone into how to use the technology to cut crime so it becomes an effective tool for the police to use.

It says everything about the half-baked and badly thought through approach to such policies that has beset this country for more than a decade that CCTV has failed due to human error rather than bad technology.

It seems the images captured on CCTV are more likely to grace our TV schedules through the likes of Street Wars or Cops on Camera, than our courtrooms as part of a successful prosecution.

What is the point of putting so many cameras in our towns and cities when we do not train people well enough to use them effectively?

What is just as telling is that a private company – in this case Google – free from the shackles of politics and red tape, has raced ahead and effectively mapped the world in impressive detail.

But it is impressive up to a certain point. Should we feel comfortable that such a large, powerful business has been able to introduce something like Street View so quickly and so comfortably with barely a hint of dissension?

Faces of those captured by Google’s cameras have now been pixellated and the firm says it will remove Street View images if people object – that’s assuming they realise images of themselves going about their daily routine are available on the internet, obviously.

The case for CCTV has still not been proved thanks largely to bureaucratic incompetence.

Yet I can’t help thinking the bigger looming threat to our civil liberties is coming from the likes of Google.

Smile, your favourite search engine is watching you.

5 responses »

  1. Ursula says:

    Paul, I will not smile (on purpose); not easy, since apparently smiling comes easy to me and is one of my features noted first..

    What you describe is pure 1984 as predicted by the good George Orwell himself. For all I care they can film as much as they like (cutting what crime exactly?), they can trace my shopping habits via loyality cards, I do not give a damn.

    Where I draw the line is Google. It is the one search engine I do not use since they literally keep every single enquiry of yours in their archives. WHY? As I have said before: There is little I have to hide but I do value the ability to share my privacy with whom I decide to do so – and Google is most certainly not a friend.


  2. […] Is CCTV or Google the bigger threat to civil liberties? « Groves Media Is Google StreetView evil? (tags: cctv google streetview) […]

  3. […] Is CCTV or Google the bigger threat to civil liberties? « Groves Media Is Google StreetView evil? (tags: cctv google streetview) […]

  4. Tom Jackson says:

    Thanks for the information on this, it’s very useful and the site is great.

    We live in a very different society compared to 20 years ago. I remember we used to leave the front door open at night and not be too bothered if we left the car doors/windows open (if there was no rain of course!) but how things have changed hey. We have a small business in Shropshire and have just installed a CCTV security system. We’re not that technical but they came in and recommended a certain type of camera and since the IP cameras have been installed and physically noticed outside our offices in Shrewsbury and Telford the number of incidents has been reduced. I wish I was back in the 80’s where surveillance was not an issue.

  5. […] vs The Belgians Posted on May 28, 2008 by Paul Groves The all-seeing search engine giant Google is facing a £39m damages claim from Belgian newspapers for publishing and storing […]

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