Surveillance-free small town versus big city with ubiquitous surveillance

The numbers in the above diagram show time-evolution.

Having lost the anonymity and privacy we once had (at least in the big city), and having lost the sense of fairness and symmetry of the small town, what are we to do? One possible solution is to form groups where we look out for each other, rather than rely on big-brother. For example, neighbourhood watch is an excellent example, where communities work together to reduce crime. Neighbourhood watch would also note and report crimes committed by authority figures, such as police and government. In order to maintain this symmetry, it is important that those living in a community maintain the right to report on illegal activity in establishments, such as shopping complexes, gambling casinos, and the like. Therefore, an organization such as a gambling casino, where there is ubiquitous video surveillance, but that does not allow people to take pictures, goes against basic symmetry and fairness principles. A neighbourhood watch community, in which each member walked around with a 50 cent toy camera, even if it has no film inside it, would go a long way to reducing crime at ALL levels. At the very least, it would get the owners of various establishments used to the idea of being watched by members of the community they serve. An establishment owns their property, but they do not own those who visit them. They have no more a right to ``shoot'' the individual, than the individual has the right to ``shoot'' back.

If ``A'' is driving a car owned by ``B'' to a repair shop owned by ``C'', ``B'' has as much a right to have cameras in the car monitoring the quality of the work, as ``C'' has a right to install surveillance cameras to make sure ``A'' does not steal tools from C's shop. Of course the best situation would probably be that all 3 parties have mutual trust, so that no surveillance need be used.

As we often see on TV, when two parties are meeting, one will often place a tape recorder on the table, and ask permission to record the conversation, at which time the other will also bring forth a tape recorder. When we sign a contract, we keep our own copy of the contract. Thus it seems reasonable, that if we are in a shop that is using video surveillance, we should keep our own video record of what we have done there (or at least should have the option to do so), just as radio stations keep a recording of everything they broadcast (``station log''). The station log protects radio stations from false accusations regarding what they have broadcast.

Surveillance takes care of shoplifting, but does not deal with crimes higher up the social hierarchy, such as shopkeepers who chain and padlock fire exits. Neighbourhood watch, and similar programs, can both reduce the need for Orwellian surveillance and also balance the asymmetry created by Orwellian surveillance.

Privacy issues of wearable cameras versus surveillance cameras.