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.