May 10, 2004

Giving It Back To Big Brother


As of May 2002, Soho had 59 privately owned surveillance cameras, 7 residential cameras, 2 police cameras and 2 federal cameras.

The abuses that led from the Bush Administration’s military intelligence agenda in Iraq (as well as domestic abuses spawned by the Patriot Act) are shedding new light on privacy concerns and the monitoring of innocent citizens. As an activist group concerned with the privacy implications of public surveillance cameras, New York Surveillance Camera Players has been on-line for as long as I can remember. Highly regarded in activist circles, last year their website was a Webby Award runner up in the Net Art category category.

Besides tracking the placement of public surveillance cameras in various cities, the organization is well known for staging plays, readings and even news programs in front of these cameras to highlight their concern. (Here is a news clip in Quicktime that shows the group in action.)

In a companion application, the Institute of Applied Autonomy has created iSee, a web-based application allowing New Yorkers to chart the locations of closed-circuit surveillance cameras. The utility allows you to actually map out routes that avoid these cameras -­which they call “paths of least surveillance.”

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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