The introduction of CCTV, creates a profound asymmetry of power between the watcher and the watched: not only are citizens watched by an unknown and unseen eye whose gaze they can neither challenge nor avoid, but data about them is increasingly extracted and automatically processed, in ways they have not given their consent to or even have any knowledge. And the camera’s gaze does not fall equally on all citizens, often those deemed ‘suspect’ merely on the basis of appearance, rather than objective behaviour, are subject to exclusion particularly from the semi-public space of the shopping mall and transportation facilities. As Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems are deployed, citizen’s anonymity of movement in public space is undermined. The British experience shows we need to be aware that we are referring to a technology that is now enabling each citizen’s movements, through their associated vehicles, to be permanently recorded on a police database. Furthermore, it allows the individual to be linked to all the material held within a variety of databases held on the Police National Computer; not only their criminal record history, but also more general intelligence files and associated data bases. And as facial recognition software is perfected over the next decades anonymity will be even further undermined.
Professor Clive Norris onderzocht in opdracht van het Europees Parlement het groeiend gebruik van camerabewaking in de openbare ruimte in verschillende Europese steden. Jammer genoeg staat België in zijn rapport nergens vermeld. Maar voor de rest is de tekst food for thought voor iedereen die bekommerd is om de verloedering van onze openbare ruimte door cctv en aanverwante ondingen.