Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Who Will Watch the Watchers?

The inevitable (and naive) question raised when new surveillance technology makes itself available to the public sector, is “Well, what’s the harm—surveillance just makes everyone safer.” And yet, just as inevitably, every time one of these technologies is implemented it turns out that there is some clever way to abuse it that never occurred to anyone. For instance, the cameras being installed at intersections around the country that capture the license plates of cars running red lights; how could a government abuse this simple and seemingly reasonable safety precaution? Well, why shouldn’t a municipality shorten the length of time that the yellow light shows and increase their revenue? Why not, in fact, shorten the interval of the yellow light to a length of time that is against the law and causes more car wrecks? Oh sheep, when will you learn. You cannot trust the government.

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