Focusing on spying craze

PUBLISHED: 12:18 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:11 06 May 2010

I AM not a great one for having my picture taken. For some reason, it usually does not turn out quite right. I have my eyes shut at the crucial moment when the shutter is clicked – photographer not paying enough attention – or I look a complete gawk which

I AM not a great one for having my picture taken.

For some reason, it usually does not turn out quite right.

I have my eyes shut at the crucial moment when the shutter is clicked - photographer not paying enough attention - or I look a complete gawk which of course is down to the absolute incompetence of the snapper.

So, for the best results, I need a little time to prepare and compose myself for the camera

But there seems to be no chance for that these days if you believe the news.

On average, each one of us is photographed 300 times a day which, for me, would mean spending every second getting ready for the click.

We are not talking here about the likes of Madonna setting out to adopt a baby.

No, these are the Joe Publics going about their ordinary, mostly unremarkable lives.

We are going about our lawful business but are being recorded several hundreds of times a day on those CCTV cameras set up to catch criminals.

When installation of the first CCTV systems was mooted by the politicians not so many years ago, the idea sparked a lively debate.

There were those who bemoaned the death of civil liberties and the demise of the right to privacy but generally people were in favour of the idea because they saw it as a move which would protect them.

After all, who would dare to break the law when they know that cameras may be spying on them and recording their wrongdoing?

But it doesn't seem to have worked out that way. The drunks and hot-headed hooligans still go blasting in to some brainless, unlawful activity even though they know that a CCTV operator may be focussed on them.

Either they don't care if they get caught because of it, or they know that there is a fair chance of them getting away with whatever they are doing if the police do not strike lucky and someone recognises their fuzzy faces on the screen.

So there they are recorded for however long - and so are the innocent majority.

Why do the powers-that-be feel the need to keep all these images? And what is the next step?

It is said that satellites unseen many miles above our heads in space can zoom in and identify individuals (the trick here is not to look up).

With the astonishing advances in technology, surely it is not long before the CCTV cameras swivelling atop poles in our midst are equipped with recording gear which can pick up the conversations of people passing by.

George Orwell warned about Big Brother in his novel 1984. He may have been a bit out with his timing but his awful prediction of an all-seeing, nearly all-hearing state is becoming a little too near reality for comfort.

But a CCTV camera would have been a good idea along the road on which I was stuck in slow moving traffic the other day.

I noticed the woman behind paying intense interest to her nails as we edged forward. The next time I looked in the rear view mirror she was frizzing up her hair.

And the next time she was on her mobile phone.

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