Security and I: Buying and Selling Fear

by Irma Arkus

Just like having more guns does not deter crime, neither does increased surveillance. It does cost a lot of money, which usually results in double duty for business and politics. On one hand, politicians pandering to public fears sound like they are investing in relevant solutions. Many of these solutions are dubious, but they are usually tied to “growing business opportunities,” allowing private sectors to receive substantial tax funds.

Naomi Klein poignantly noted that current investment trends are in security, rather than eco-conscious energy production. People are not investing in efficient solar panels or zero-pollution cars, they are investing in policing efforts, surveillance, weapons…

You don’t need to be a genious, or a Luddite, to be concerned when glancing at a disproportionate amount of surveillance technology in London, for example. Or Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics serving as a platform to launch a manifold of new surveillance technologies, in one of the safest cities in the world.

London’s CCTV cameras cost millions of tax dollars, at first were sold to public as crime deterring tools. Undeniably, these cameras have served a certain purpose in catching criminals after the crime was committed, but then again, so have millions of other developments in CSI technologies.

A growing number of critics have pointed that these methods are not deterring crimes, as much as they are eroding personal privacy, or should I say, our sense of anonymity. UK’s Home Office recently commissioned a report, concluding that CCTV can be used as a detection tool, or an investigative tool, but not a deterrent.

Ars Technica has posted a relevant article criticising current trends of promoting loss of privacy as a way of achieving greater security. According to Jon Stokes, you can trade all the privacy you want, but it may not help you achieve security. Or think of it this way – when was the last time you wanted to check in on your favorite CEO, MP or a Prime Minister?