UK

Met police tell Britons: look in rubbish bins for terrorism

In March 2008 British police shocked Londoners by asking them to report "odd-looking" photographers and houses with "unusual activity". Despite massive criticism for infringing on civil liberties last time, the Metropolitan Police is now going further, asking residents to rummage through wheelie bins and report anyone who dares glance at a CCTV camera.

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In March 2008 British police shocked Londoners by asking them to report "odd-looking" photographers and houses with "unusual activity". Despite massive criticism for infringing on civil liberties last time, the Metropolitan Police is now going further, asking residents to rummage through wheelie bins and report anyone who dares glance at a CCTV camera.

"Rather than being a legitimate political response […] CCTV is now regarded as suspicious in itself"

David Murakami Wood is a university lecturer and researcher specialised in the impact of surveillance systems on society.

This campaign is supposedly encouraging people to report their suspicions on terrorist activity, but is in fact just another step on the illiberal, socially divisive and stupid road towards a McCarthyite Britain, where British people are expected to spy on each other in the name of security.

Apart from encouraging people to rifle through their neighbours' garbage, the most disturbing thing about this new campaign is the way in which it implies that any interest in CCTV cameras is a potentially terrorist activity. ... Effectively, we are being officially instructed to ignore the cameras and pretend we don't see them. Rather than being a legitimate political response to a repressive, undemocratic and unaccountable growth in surveillance, ‘interest' in CCTV is now regarded as suspicious in itself.

This is particularly problematic for researchers like me. We'll see what happens when I am back in London in May and June, when I will be taking a lot of pictures of CCTV as part of my project, which is of course, ironically, sponsored by an official British state research council."

David has written more about the subject on his blog.

Check your neighbours' wheelie bin

Watch out for those watchful of CCTV cameras

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