Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The United Kingdom of Ohio

They call it "the surveillance society."

By one estimate there are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in use in the UK -- one camera for every 14 people.

It's all in the name of public safety, of course. (This from a nation that hasn't yet met a
nanny it didn't love.)

Back on this side of the Pond, today we
learned that $2 million of Homeland Security money has brought Mary Poppins to Ohio. The camera-integration project, approved by the Ohio Controlling Board, links cameras statewide to a hub in Columbus, where Ohio officials will be able to access real-time video feeds.

My wife and I actually got wind of this a couple of years ago. We heard credible reports that businesses were being quietly encouraged to install at least one camera and a DVR. A link-up scheme, though not explicitly proposed at the time, obviously was the goal.

And now it's here.

The deterrent effect of video surveillance is negligible. It serves safety and security primarily by facilitating identification of bad actors after they've committed bad acts -- no one should harbor the illusion that a blanket of video monitoring somehow makes us safer.

It doesn't.

Anyone who wants to waste time opposing Ohio's plan or trying to block its implementation should know that the civil-liberties ship sailed years ago. Those of us who surf the Internet or use mobile phones, swipe credit cards, subscribe to magazines or visit the ER already volunteer our personal information to the State.

No matter what you call it -- Big Brother, Nanny State or New World Order -- it's real, inescapable and here to stay. As I said
yesterday, the best we can do is be aware of it and act accordingly.