Is Surveillance Bad?

Depends on who is in control of the video, doesn’t it?

I specifically and deliberately did NOT buy a Ring camera. It had nothing to do with the physical setup, but, rather, the fact that the police could access it so readily. I prefer to be in control of the process, including where the video is stored.

I used the SimpliSafe setup, as the ongoing cost is a mere $14.95 a month monitoring fee. Both my husband and kids felt better about my living alone over the last two years with the system in place.

And, in fact, it was comforting to have the security of an alarm system that would call in the cops if it were breached. YMMV, as, in some cities, the cops are a bigger problem than the official criminals. It helps that I’m living in a primarily owner-resident neighborhood. You can see the difference between much of the rental property and that of owner occupied property – landscaping, well-tended gardens, and regular maintenance are hallmarks of the latter.

Most of the crime in my police district consists of noise complaints, dogs roaming around without a leash, and occasional thefts from cars or unoccupied homes.

But, very low levels, for the most part. The so-called porch pirates are not active here. I’ve lived here through two Halloweens, and vandalism hasn’t been a problem, even the year that I was not handing out candy, due to not being home at the time.

There are several streets nearby with Neighborhood Watch associations; my street tends to keep an eye out for trouble informally. We’re generally a friendly bunch, although Midwest distant-friendly. We mind our own business, but are available, should there be a problem.

We know our neighbors. We’re a high-trust kind of community.

But, many urban centers cannot say the same. They were targeted for ‘development’, and hollowed out of the community cohesiveness. For them, protection with cameras, locks, and alarms is essential. I would expect them to become truly hellish landscapes, should economic and/or city services continue to deteriorate. In those places, use of security cameras will explode.

And, that’s a problem. For every camera that provides ease of mind to those deploying them, 10 more allow an oppressive state to exert control over residents (you can hardly call the people so controlled citizens). Like the autonomous cars that are not under the driver’s control, their deployment can turn on the owners, leaving them in legal trouble.

I regularly take a cell phone with me when I walk the dog. My husband nagged, until it became an automatic action. I do understand his caution and concern. But, I feel tethered, nonetheless.

It’s the same with the LifeAlert or Personal Emergency Response Systems. If your family pushes for them, well, it can be argued that they have a stake in the process, and that their concern about your safety really is the motivating factor.

What is the government’s interest? Not nearly so benign.

We have choices – and one of them is to not make it too easy for the state to run our lives. Make them sweat the process. Resist.