Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Sousveillance

Here's a nice new word: sousveillance. Surveillance is when the authorities point their cameras at us and sousveillance is when we point our cameras back at them.  As the surveillance state bulks up, so does the sousveillance resistance- and its largely due to that nifty little device- the camera phone. Thanks to sousveillance the Metropolitan police are not going to get away with their account of the death of Ian Tomlinson in the G20 demonstration. According to the the story they first put out, Mr Tomlinson- not a protestor but a newspaper vendor walking back to his lodgings-  slipped and fell under a hail of bottles from protesters- and the police did their best to protect him. But according to the record of a camera phone belonging- nice touch this, positively Shakespearean- to a New York fund manager- we can see what really happened was that a policeman attacked Mr Tomlinson from behind. There was no hail of bottles. The police in their dark force armour positively owned that street. And the people who went to Mr Tomlinson's aid were members of the public.

There has been a lot of gloomy media talk about how the British are the most spied-upon nation in the world and how, by tolerating the spread of surveillance cameras, we are sleep-walking towards 1984. But Orwell didn't forsee the camera phone and how it levels the playing field. For every CCTV camera in a public place there are God knows how many camera phones in bags and pockets. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Well, all of us, actually. Any of us. We all of us have the gear.
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