With datapanik we nominated “The network of smart cameras” for the 2017 Big Brother Awards in Belgium.
With more than 47,000 places where cameras are placed, there is no longer any escape. Many of these cameras also keep getting “smarter”. However, under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, organised crime and nuisance, much more data are being collected than we actually realise. A high-tech spider web is being woven which offers unseen possibilities to monitor each citizen individually.
Read more below about the motivation for this nomiantion.
UPDATE: The 2017 Big Brother Awards were handed out on October 13th in the KVS (Brussels). During the event, the network of smart cameras received the price of the public!
All your movements are suspect
Whether you drive a car, go by foot or use public transport or a bike, you can be sure of one thing: you are being filmed. With more than 47,000 places where cameras are placed, there is no longer any escape.
Many of these cameras also keep getting “smarter”. They can recognise faces and detect patterns. They are linked to an increasing number of databases and collect more and more data. ANPR cameras do not only photograph the number plate anymore, but the complete vehicle, including passengers. Soon it will also be possible to identify every passenger with an additional module for face recognition.
In the meantime, these ANPR cameras can already be found at border crossings, airports, along roadways or at city entrances. Soon these images will also be kept for one year. This situation is presented as a panacea for terrorists, speed devils and persons parking illegally.
However, under the pretext of this fight against terrorism, organised crime and nuisance, a high-tech spider web is being woven which offers unseen possibilities to monitor each citizen individually. In fact, it is not only about our safety – much more data are being collected. By means of real-time monitoring and profiling, a total control of everyone’s movements is imminent.
And it does not stop at cameras alone. It is as much about number plate parking or your passenger data. The latter is already being kept for air travel, and plans are well advanced to do the same for train and bus travel.
Nevertheless, the large-scale storage of everyone’s data for later detection and prosecution is unlawful. This is how the European Court of Justice ruled in a groundbreaking judgment on data retention earlier this year. This constitutes indeed a reversal of a basic principle of the democratic constitutional state: the government may only violate someone’s privacy in the event of reasonable suspicion of having committed a concrete criminal offence. Now this principle is being reversed, making any moving person a potential suspect.
This all happens as if it is the most natural thing in the world, without significant public debate and with a legislation that is traditionally lagging far behind. It is high time to clamp down on such practices.