Weird News Video #23 — Big Brother

Episode #23: “Big Brother”, from True’s 9 November 2008 issue.

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Big Brother

“This is not about Big Brother spying on law-abiding citizens,” insists Ipswich, Qld., Australia, mayor Paul Pisasale. “This is about telling the morons who cause civic damage and destruction that they are not welcome in our city.” The plan: set up portable surveillance cameras with bullhorns on them. “If operators see some kids hanging around and think they might be up to no good, they can warn them off, saying: ‘Son, I wouldn’t do that’.” The system cost the town A$60,000 (US$40,350), adding to its existing fleet of 160 mute security cameras. (Brisbane Courier-Mail) …This is not about chasing off morons. This is about politicians who don’t think morons will steal expensive portable camera systems.

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12 Comments on “Weird News Video #23 — Big Brother

  1. You are being a bit harsh. I know this area (and wouldn’t live there). The security cameras are mounted on poles, and make the area safer for ‘law abiding citizens’. The mayor has had to be careful in how the media perceived the cameras. He couldn’t say “Because your revolting little thugs of children are allowed to run wild in the city, we have had to put up cameras to stop them from destroying everything. Security guards man the cameras 24/7

    I don’t dispute that constant surveillance makes things “safer”. Do you dispute that they also intrude on the privacy of law-abiding citizens? -rc

  2. You don’t have ‘Privacy’ in a public place. If you’re a law abiding citizen, you have nothing to worry about and perhaps you’ll find some comfort in knowing that the area you are in is at least being monitored for illegal behavior.

  3. Randy, I don’t know if you’re aware, but the UK has had cameras like this for quite some time (though it may still be in “trials”, I’m not sure). Your comment on Nola’s post above is entirely true. Recently there’s been several cases in the UK where ‘security measures’ have been used inappropriately to pry on someone other than a known law-breaker.

    Frankly, it scares me, and I plan to emigrate somewhere that isn’t plunging so quickly into 1984. Looks like Australia’s now off my list of possible places.

    Yes, definitely aware that UK is camera-laden. And no surprise they’re being abused. -rc

  4. I have never had a problem with so-called “invasion of privacy” by public surveillance cameras. You have no privacy when you are in a public place anyway, so using cameras to watch people in public cannot, by definition, be invasion of privacy. Recording of what people do in public might possibly be debatable — but I don’t see how, if you are in fact law-abiding, it can be a problem. Yeah, I know, not everything is always “black and white” and there could be cases where surveillance footage could break alibis or incriminate philanderers (for example) but it could just as likely be used to corroborate or exonerate.

    And if it means there is a better chance of catching criminals or vandals – or, better still, simply discouraging them – then I am all for it.

  5. In addition to my great dislike of Big Brother actions, how about this….WHY should “law abiding citizens” be required to pay to parent those children? If this mayor (and leaders everywhere) would just lead, perhaps the “law abiding citizens” would have someone to support and no one would give a flyin’ flip what the media thought!

    Since they have already posted those cameras, then maybe they should go all out and put up billboards with the pictures of the little darlings and their misbehavior! Telling them to move along, just moves them to another location…one without a camera? Just where does this thinking end? Do you put up a camera outside the door of every “thug” kid’s house?

  6. Most law abiding people have nothing to fear from the cameras. I live not far from Ipswich and before the cameras were installed you would not linger in the main street but with the cameras installed the kind of people who think bashing older gentlemen is fun are gone from the public areas. Some are even in jail, where they belon, because of the cameras.
    Normal people going about their daily business don’t even realize the cameras are there but the criminal aspect of our society certainly do. These cameras and the increased police presence are a god send.

  7. Problem with some of the previous comments–we need to check our assumptions. If you assume the government tends toward benevolence and really does have your best interests in mind, then I can understand how cameras might not bother someone. However, given that we know public officials aren’t always the most “virtuous” giving them the power to video tape people in public places is what I’d consider a little too much. Even if the government in general works for good, there will always be individuals tempted to do the wrong thing.

    Cameras in the city is just TOO reminiscent of 1984.

  8. George Orwell had it right. He just had the year off by a couple decades.

    As I recall, reducing crime was also Hitler’s ruse for disarming the German citizenry prior to his total dissolution of what had remained of that country’s rights. I’m all for fighting crime, but our government leaders need to rethink their methods.

    Oh yeah, and Randy, you’re spot on. Little Brother does have to keep watching Big Brother too.

  9. I beg to differ with the idea that these cameras in public places creates an invasion of privacy. If there is a police officer in an area moving about and watching the citizenry does that also create an invasion of privacy? I see no difference between this and a camera besides the fact that the cameras are stationary.

    Having the government monitor you on their property hardly seems an invasion of privacy to me. Being watched in grocery stores or gas stations is never questioned, so why is this? It serves the same purpose, to prevent crime or identify criminals, doesn’t it?

    Wait: the government’s property?! That’s your property, my friend. Our property. As in “the public”. Grocery stores and gas stations are private property, and indeed they can record things on their property if they wish. But the government is there to serve us, not to assume we’re criminals that need to be watched. -rc

  10. This is the same wonderful country that has seized all of the law abiding citizens’ guns while ignoring the criminals, and now wonders why crime is up.

    When citizens abandon such basic rights such as self defenses to the government why should said government care about something like privacy? Having succeeded in its gun grab, it is clear that the overreaching by the government knows no end. This is a good lesson to those in the states who say it can not happen here.

  11. I, for one, would deny that the privacy of law-abiding citizens is being infringed, as they are not being prevented from doing anything whatsoever which they would previously have been permitted to do in public. These surveillance systems don’t assume the guilt of everyone, they are introduced in response to the demonstrable guilt of some.
    Of course, “sousveillance” of those who choose to seek power in the public arena is also entirely appropriate.

  12. To Doug in AZ,

    I strongly suggest you read the Snopes article at for info about the firearms here in Oz. Crime rates shown no significant changes in trends before or after the banning of certain types of weapons (we can still own guns, just not semi- or fully-automatic ones).

    The article also explains that firearms laws were very different in Australia to begin with. You *don’t* have any right to bear arms in this country, and you certainly don’t have a right to shoot someone who is committing or attempting to commit a crime against you (although the circumstances would certainly be taken into account at your trial and/or sentencing).

    Personally, I think overly strict gun laws don’t achieve much. The laws we already had did a reasonable job of keeping guns away from the crazy people (although, sadly, you can’t stop all of them). Criminals will just ignore any laws, of course.

    It’s a similar issue to the surveillance cameras. Politicians love them because they give the impression of “doing something”, and they often do actually result in lower crime rates in targeted areas. More importantly to the pollies, they’re an awful lot cheaper & easier than providing more police and dealing with some of the fundamental problems that lead young people into committing such crimes.

    Er, sorry for the rant, hope I provided something useful to the discussion!


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