Friday, June 24, 2005

Smile! You're on Communist Camera

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Today, the Globe and Mail had an article, Smile! You're on Communist camera, about the Chinese government's new found love of public video surveillance.

Even an ordinary provincial city, Zhengzhou in central China, already has 40,000 surveillance cameras in place, with another 60,000 planned in the next five years. China's biggest city, Shanghai, is planning another 200,000 cameras within the next five years, in addition to the 200,000 already operating.

As you can imagine, Chinese citizens are not too pleased about this,
"When were these cameras installed?" asked a 28-year-old man who was swimming in Shichahai Lake in Beijing when the hidden cameras were pointed out to him. "We never knew about it," he said. "Otherwise we wouldn't swim here. Nobody wants to swim under a camera."

A British group called Privacy International was founded in 1990 as a watchdog against government and corporate invasion of privacy. They host the annual Big Brother Awards which spotlights, "BritainĂ‚’s most greedy, incompetent, invasive and manipulative mandarins and organisations."

With Britain's unbelievably invasive system of 4.2 million closed circuit cameras, it's easy to see why the awards started there, but they are now run in a number of other countries, including France, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and the US. Their site includes a summary of Taiwan's Privacy Laws if you're interested.

I looked for an article about CCTV use in Taiwan and couldn't find anything. I know they are there because every once and awhile I look up and see one of them looking down on me in a little side lane.

The boys who drink at Roadside Inc. should know that there are cameras around that hood as well as out side of Chubby's. Not that they're doing anything illegal, not that any of us are...

...but nobody wants to swim under a camera.

This image was originally posted at

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