Big Brother Is Coming!

Posted on 09 June 2009


big-brother

Local media reports indicate that Morris Township is moving closer to becoming Morris County’s first municipality to install red light cameras.  These cameras, already in use by other municipalities in New Jersey and other states, enable ticketing of motorists who run these red lights.  Owners of vehicles captured by these cameras receive a summons by mail with a hefty fine attached.  It is unclear what defense might be advanced for such a violation.

 

In George Orwell’s classic novel, “1984,” Big Brother, an icon of the ruling totalitarian regime, “watches” a subjugated populace via its television screens.  Since motorists on public streets should have no expectation of privacy, red light cameras clearly do not intrude upon any motorists rights.  Likewise, were a police officer a witness to a moving violation at an intersection, he or she could certainly ticket the violator.  Nonetheless, the presence of technology that enables the government to identify and enforce every single motor vehicle intersection infraction seems a little too “Orwellian” to this writer.

 

If the use of technology to enforce laws against motorists running red lights does not trouble you, how does the use of technology to enforce speed laws?  Most of us have seen those displays on roadsides (both temporary and permanent) apprizing motorists of the speeds of their vehicles.  Why not enforce speed limits using the same technology used to enforce intersection violations?

 

Perhaps, technology could be improved to identify not merely the vehicle involved in the violation but also its operator.  Then, in addition to a hefty fine, the violating motorist could be faced with points on his/her license, loss of license, and/or surcharges on auto insurance premiums!  Does the prospect of this type of enforcement disturb anyone other than me?

 

There is something disconcerting about receiving notification after-the-fact that you, or more precisely, the vehicle you own has violated a motor vehicle law.  Now, I’m not endorsing lawlessness.  But, if the average motorist thinks about it and is honest with himself, he would likely admit to committing any number of motor vehicle violations each day, even if the violations were for driving 26 in a 25 mile-per-hour zone or slowly rolling through a stop sign at a desolate intersection.  Should we expand technology to discover and punish all of these infractions?

 

Liberty is won with great difficulty and lost with ease.  It is a slippery slope from permitting cameras at intersections to permitting government surveillance of all public venues and activities.  And, it is but a relatively small step from the bottom of that slippery slope to government surveillance of private venues:  the scenario depicted in “1984.”

 

Of course, there is always a valid reason for such monitoring.  In the case of red light cameras, the rationale is to reduce accidents and promote public safety.  Does generating revenue for the municipalities enter into this equation?  I think so, and the thought of our local governments squeezing every dollar out of an already financially-strapped populace actually makes me feel somewhat better about the proposition.  Better a local government whose purpose in spying on its citizens is greed, than one whose purpose is behavior and mind control.





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24 Responses to “Big Brother Is Coming!”

  1. Edster says:

    The behavioral control agenda was obviously in place with the last administration, flying, in part under the Patriot Act — a piece of legislation ingeniously configured and spoonfed to the American public.

    How about the technology that anyone and his brother can access online — the system that allows a person to view, in real time, your dad gardening in his front lawn three States removed from you or anyone else whose full physical address is in the user’s possession? Big Brother’s gone way too far for one reason only: as a society, we’ve grown complacent.

    We need to return to the mindset we had when we organized and marched peacefully but purposefully on DC. When we affected social and political change. Well, at least I protested in this manner. Oops. Now I went and left a trail for Big Brother to find me. Just kidding. He already knows where I live, who I hang out with, which organizations I support, and which politicians I continue to attempt to dethrone. Ditto for anyone else reading this, whether or not you want to believe it.

  2. Kimmie says:

    Technology is not 100% reliable first of all. Programs have glitches all the time and it can cost unviolating drivers. But, If your not doing anything wrong why would it bother you. Camera’s save lives and catch criminals. We are “spied” on all day long while in public. Every store has a survalience camera so, what’s the difference if we are in a store stealing merchandise or on the road blowing a stop sign. Either way we are caught doing wrong and should be. If you have nothing to hide then the cameras shouldn’t be an issue. I am all about privacy but, cameras can be beneficial. It could stop a driver from running a red light and hitting an innocent child.

  3. mallen says:

    Ah… the bleating of the sheeple: “if you’re not doing anything wrong, why would it bother you?”

    That kind of blind obedience to authority is what allows our civil rights to slip away. Pick up any history book, and you’ll see that it is a very short trip from good intentions to outright abuse.

    So many people have sacrificed and fought and died for our rights. Frankly, it sickens me that people like Kimmie here are so willing to throw them away.

  4. kevin says:

    the red light cameras bill was sruck doen in my state (VA) but recently somthing that happend changed my mind about the out come. i was almost hit by a man running a red light, i was paying attention and i stopped and hit the horn to warn those around me. the vehicle that ran the light smashed the rear of the vehicle to my right. there was some injury but as luck would have it no one died. however, the man who ran the light would try to put the blame with the man women he hit. the camara that could not issue tickets was used as evedince to prove what really happend. this has made think twice about privacy bills. anyone can see you in public, so why is it some kind of invasion if you get taped? any one could see you and claim anything now the truth is there for all to see. send any thing you have to say to

    kcc2972@email.vccs.edu

    i love to argue please all those that disagree please respond

  5. Chris says:

    Mallen: As a person who normally disagrees with the premise of “if you’re not doing anything wrong why would you care”, because of it’s use in the wiretapping incidents, I have to disagree with you.

    This is PUBLIC. This isn’t the government taking away your civil right to privacy. This is the government enforcing a perfect legit law by observing your infractions in public.

    There is no difference between an officer and this camera, except this camera will probably make less mistakes (it can no EXACTLY when the light changed and where your car was) and will catch you more often.

    It is very disrespectful for you to bring up the people who have fought for and died for our rights when you’re arguing about your “right” to go through a red light and get away with it. They are completely different things and pretending they are the same takes away from all of the REAL issues that we should be fighting against, like wire/e-mail tapping.

  6. Editor says:

    In response to Chris, I never spoke about those who have fought and died for our freedoms. I have the utmost respect for those brave men and women. Rather, the point I was making was regarding the level of scrutiny under which the general public is willing to place itself. Is it an infringement on your Constitutional rights to monitor anything in the public domain? Of course, not. But, when does the level of monitoring become a concern to you as a citizen, despite the fact that you are doing nothing wrong. A good “for instance” is a provision in one of the versions of universal healthcare legislation before Congress that propective parents receive in-home counseling (presumably regarding child care) during the course of their pregnancy. Does this trample on any “rights” of those parents? Frankly, I don’t know, but find it disturbing. Likewise, I find the growing surveillance of public places (traffic intersections included) a somewhat chilling thought. Perhaps, you don’t. On that, we can disagree.

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