My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The use of cameras in fighting terrorism...

I've never had a problem with cameras in public spaces.
Despite the privacy advocates’ claims, public spaces are public—fortunately. | 18 July 2005

Will the civil libertarians please shut up now? If they had had their way, London’s public surveillance cameras would have been unplugged long ago, and the British police would not have quickly identified the 7/7 suicide bombers from their pictures in the King’s Cross and Luton train stations—a breakthrough crucial to tracking down other participants in the plot. The London attacks have exposed the privacy fanatics’ campaign against public cameras as folly; it is just a matter of time before reality crushes other civil libertarian excesses as well, including opposition to data mining and to immigration law enforcement.

Few crime-fighting technologies have inspired more hysterical rhetoric from privacy nuts than public cameras. Erecting a camera on a street corner where drugs are sold, say, has been portrayed as the stratagem of a totalitarian state intent on controlling a submissive public. And few anti-camera campaigners have matched the philosophical excesses of legal journalist and law professor Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen’s absurdities were penned after 9/11; they look even more embarrassing after 7/7.

Ironically, it was London’s recently vindicated camera network that had inspired Rosen’s flights of fancy. Rosen visited England in the weeks after 9/11 to report on the Orwellian nightmare that America risked replicating in an overreaction to the World Trade Center attacks. London has over half a million public cameras, according to the Wall Street Journal, the highest number anywhere. Rosen reported his findings in an October 2001 New York Times Magazine cover story and in his 2004 book, The Naked Crowd.

Rosen saw in England’s cameras less the heavy hand of a Gestapo or a Stasi and more the sophisticated stratagems of postmodern literary theory. Mimicking the French pseudo-historian Michel Foucault, Rosen charged that public cameras were “technologies of classification and exclusion.” As a “post-Marxist,” Foucault had left behind economics in favor of sexier topics like deviance and social control. Rosen’s take on cameras echoed Foucauldian obsessions. Public videos, said Rosen, are instruments of “social conformity. . . . They are ways of putting people in their place, of deciding who gets in and who stays out.”
A nice article by Heather Mac Donald.