Monday, 7 March 2011

That's all folks

I've tried all sorts of things and no one is listening, so I have decided to go and live where there are no cameras.

Good luck, Kirkcaldy. 

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Anti-Surveillance Pledge

CCTV is an affront to our essential dignity and freedoms. To be kept under constant surveillance is to be held effectively in an open-prison. To combat this scourge of civil society, we would ask you to take the anti-surveillance pledge:

1) I shall work by lawful means and the appropriate democratic channels to safeguard society's inherent civil liberties.

2) I shall be willing to whistleblow against any misuse of public surveillance.

3) I shall not install or operate a CCTV system in any place where the public is at liberty freely to conduct their business (allowing exceptions for the insides of bank vaults, certain zones of MOD premises, warehouses closed at night etc.)

4) I shall not profit from the proceeds of this trade in human liberty.

5) I shall never work in the CCTV industry or for public safety partnerships that promote the use of routine public surveillance, save to subvert their illiberal aims.

6) I shall refuse to comment on CCTV images captured as part of routine surveillance of the general public and admitted as evidence into the trial proceedings.

7) I shall not watch television shows composed primarily of CCTV images used for entertainment and instructive purposes (including cop chase shows, rogue traders, dangerous streets) as these have the effect of inducing a fear of crime and normalising in the public's mind mass surveillance of society.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Eight-foot Alien

I'm not entirely sure what this is supposed to prove? The author does make a good point, however, that CCTV gives its controllers the opportunity to decide what 'crimes' they want to follow up. Also, acting strangely is of course now a crime.

Coppers, not Cameras

Kirkcaldy against CCTV continues its campaign against the acceptance of public surveillance, and this week, one of the founder members found to his cost the dangers of taking this affront to our liberty too personally.

"Jogging along the High Street, in Kirkcaldy, I noticed the camera following me. I stopped and it stopped. Then I moved on again, and it moved on. I stopped and it stopped, all the time watching me. I was dog-walking for a friend, and went in to collect Rollo. At the top of the stairs, I noticed a flash of a yellow coat. Coming out of the front door, I saw a police van parked immediately in front of the flat's entrance hallway. As is my custom, I started the jog. Having progressed 100 yards up the street, I heard what could only be a Police Transit pull to a stop behind me. I turned around, and seeing that it was clearly me that the officers were interested in went back to speak to them.

Me: "Can I help you?"
Them: "Yes, we have had a complaint of someone breaking into a car matching your description."
Me: "This is because I run the anti-surveillance campaign, isn't it?"
Them: "No, no. Where have you come from?"
Me: "From the High Street. I am doing dog-walking. Look if it happened on the High Street then you will have images of it."
Them: "No, well, it happened just off the High Street. About 15 minutes ago. The youth was wearing a blue top, blue jogging bottoms, with white stripes down the legs."
Me: "Well, since I left my front door, I haven't been out of sight of at least two cameras for that whole time."
Them: "Can I take your name, please?"
[Takes my details.]

The officers did not detain me, or caution me. In fact, they were very pleasant and professional. I can almost guarantee that there will have been no one else down the High Street matching my description, and said as much, and yet the Police rightly let me go on my way. More likely this was just a little warning, a shot across the bows, for taking an interest in their work. There is no other sensible explanation."

As we say to anyone interested in the campaign, this is not an anti-Police campaign. If you have a grudge to bear against the Police then you will need to find alternative channels. We have always said that monies saved by dismantling the CCTV network, should be saved or ploughed back into neighbourhood policing, to put officers out on the streets. We must keep policing interpersonal.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Here comes the summer sun...

Summer at last is on its way. I woke up this morning with gorgeous summery sunshine pouring through my window. I could feel the heat as I walked on the floor. Bring on the hot weather.

As the sun gets up this summer, you will need to take care of your sun. Sun cream and sensible doses are both important, and hats likewise.

But there is another good reason for wearing a hat. If you start wearing a broad-brimmed hat, then you will be protecting yourself from excessive state surveillance of your daily business. Umbrellas are likewise useful in this regard. Too much surveillance is bad for the long-term health of our society and can lead to the state building up an unnecessarily detailed picture of our daily lives.

So take care! Protect yourselves! We all have a right and duty to protest peacefully against this intrusive menace.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

towards an anti-surveillance philosophy

"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail - its roof may shake - the wind may blow through it - the storm may enter - the rain may enter - but the King of England cannot enter - all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!" William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1708-1778) quoted in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1956

To the sanctity of the home, as a society, we must add the sanctity of the street. It is essential that the people are able to live private lives in public places. Our freedom is at stake.

We are born from wombs and buried in coffins. At the open and close of a human life is hiddenness, closeness, and darkness. In our infancy and youth, we crave the proximity of parents and the protection that they offer. We may stray far from them, but the realisation that one is on one's own is a cause for terror for a young child. The child cries. The child implicitly implores passers-by for their help to reunite him or her with his or her parents and with the security and protection that those parents can offer. In childhood, in return for security, we sacrifice something of our personal privacy. We cannot but let our parents know where we are at any moment, enter our room at moment, dress us, dictate our eating habits, schedule our day.

In late childhood, at the cusp of adulthood, the desire for freedom, to express our individuality, to become our own person roars like a lion within us. Our parents struggle at times to adapt quickly to the change, forgetful of their own coming of age. Many a door is banged and meal refused to be eaten as the teenager begins to assert him or herself to cast their own impression on the world. Yes, there is an air of predictability about the process, but the end result as with a pregnancy which has run its term, may often surprise. The end result is an adult full of views, opinions, failings and strengths, quirks, idiosyncrasies and identity. This life is no more valuable than that of people at other stages of his or her life, but this life is now at full strength, its powers as full as they will ever be, its will powerful and dangerous, its mind constantly roaming.

And yet though the mature and full-fledged adult is has attained in many ways the fullest extent of its capacities, it desires still a certain balance and order in its affairs.

We each of us need both security and freedom. We need both privacy and oversight. We do not want to be controlled, but feel the need to control others who might harm us.

Freedom and privacy must be fought for and claimed. Many Kirkcaldy people would happily surrender these rights at the first opportunity. This is not a generation that holds freedom sacrosanct, that has a healthy discourse on freedom, but rather one that is given to quick and bitter prejudices, that is suspicious of generally harmless people, like new immigrants to our country, yet all-forgiving of the State, a body that has killed and stolen, maimed and brutalised the peoples of the world, with a intensity that has never been matched by that seen in the twentieth century.

Given that an anarchist ideal is both unlikely and takes too little regard for humankind's inherent capacity for evil deeds, we must turn somewhere for security and oversight. This can be provided either by surveillance or society. In the past sixty years, we have turned our backs on society and now embrace surveillance. There is no society in a surveillance society. There are only surveilled upon individuals. Our accountability is no longer mutual, to others around us, but to the distant State, an amorphous, unimpeachable tyrant, who drags in communities and spits out insentient puppets.

Society survives in pockets in this town. If you find yourself hanging around after work, if you catch yourself loitering in the park, if you chat to a fellow dog-walker as you stroll along the Pathhead sands or out to Seafield, you touch for a moment society. You are living a private life in a public place. Provided you neither of you have no mobile phone with you, or you are not of any interest to anyone, provided you are away from the untiring vision of the cameras, you have just enjoyed a social moment. And how affirming was it? Immensely so, I hope.

You found out that Mrs Baxter's mother is ailing, and told Mrs Baxter that your daughter is getting married. You asked how Jimmy was coping with working to midnight six days a week. Perhaps you even on touched on one or two more conceptual issues like mental illness or the seasons or true happiness. Regardless the contact was what was mattered. Like two pebbles on the riverbed of life, you met and came away fractionally changed, perhaps even fractionally more alike.

'Would you like to come round for a meal on Saturday night?' Not something you'll be hearing from the State.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

A Policy, not an operational matter

In various exchanges of correspondence, the details of which I am restricted from discussing by unwarrented 'Private' labels, there has been one repeated feature of note:

It is clear that the majority of your elected officials believe that CCTV is a operational, and not a Policy concern.

Letters that I have written to councillors, have in certain cases been forwarded to the local authority officals responsible for implementing CCTV. I am not concerned about CCTV's implementation. I am sure that it is implemented very well. No one that we know of has been struck by a falling lens cap of electricuted by some faulty wiring. If they had no doubt, I would have been in touch with Fife Community Safety Partnership.

The problem is the principle. White van man, let's call him, Mr. Y, put it best of all:

Me: Terrible to have this CCTV everywhere.
Mr. Y: Oh, I know, an absolute disgrace. Isn't it awful how ready we are to hand over our liberties. Called Radio Scotland about it the other day. The usual hang'em and flog'em brigade was on. I said that it was their defensive attitude that got us into this position.