Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ubiquitous surveilance: Why isn't this working?

Here's an interesting thing about the capability of government to Get Things Done.  Whenever government decides to Do Something About Crime, we see lots of tire smoke and hear plenty of noise, but no forward motion.  Usually they go backwards.

Britain being a perfect petri dish example with their Big Eye ubiquitous surveillance system.

An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has now uncovered just how much personal data is being collected about individuals by the Government, law enforcement agencies and private companies each day.

In one week, the average person living in Britain has 3,254 pieces of personal information stored about him or her, most of which is kept in databases for years and in some cases indefinitely.

The data include details about shopping habits, mobile phone use, emails, locations during the day, journeys and internet searches.

In many cases this information is kept by companies such as banks and shops, but in certain circumstances they can be asked to hand it over to a range of legal authorities.

In Britain the average schlub shows up on video 300 times a day.  Average, mind you.  Meaning in high surveillance areas like London people's every movement is recorded.  You pick your nose, 5 cameras see it.  Every time you swipe a card, make a phone call or use the Web, it gets recorded.  The recording system pretty much tracks you all day, every day.  They Know Where You Are.

Yet Britain is in the middle of an historic crime wave.  London is presently more dangerous than the mean streets of New York City, which is saying something.  NYC doesn't have no-sparrow-shall-fall surveillance.  Odd, yes?

Counter intuitive though it may be, Constable Plod being able to know whodunnit seems to have no effect on stopping them doing it.  How can this be?  I mean, you can blame the catch-and-release system of bleeding heart Liberalism, but there's just so much data available on so many petty thugs one would think the authorities would be able to bust these jerks every time they take a leak in public, which they appear to do hourly.  Wouldn't the petty criminal get tired of spending all his time going through catch and release all day, every day?

Apparently, even given Godlike knowledge there is a limit to what The System can get done.  That limit appears to fall far, far short of what is needed to deter petty criminals.  We're talking deterring street drunks here, and small time drug users with maybe five working brain cells. Not even organized crime, much less religious fanatics with a hate on for the whole world.

Bottom line, plenty of action but no traction.  The result, regardless of intent, is MORE crime and terrorism, not less.


There's a reason of course.  We just need to know what it is and act accordingly.  Maybe large populations can't be controlled?  Now that's a thought worth examining I'd say, because history seems to support it.  Let's all think about that a little bit.  More later!

The Phantom

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