Before September 11, opposition to new electronic surveillance technology in public spaces seemed to be mounting in the U.S. Security cameras were showing up everywhere: at malls, in city parks, along highways. Meanwhile concerned citizens wondered whether these ostensibly benevolent electronic eyes were developing a suspicious squint. When police in Tampa, Fla., revealed that the city's entertainment district was being "patrolled" by 36 video cameras connected to a computerized face-recognition system, a barrage of criticism descended on the city council. At one memorable event, protesters gestured obscenely at the cameras, shouting, "Digitize this!"
How the times have changed. Today the talk is of more, rather than less, surveillance. Instead of "Big Brother is watching you," we hear "Big Brother is watching out for you." Some pundits opine that the balance between privacy and security must shift in favor of the latter.
This article was originally published with the title Here's Looking at You.