We are all paparazzi now

In an age of increasing corporate and government surveillance,

publicly accessible webcams give us a chance to do some watching of our own

[...] For some critics, the chance that webcams could be an antidote to corporate and government surveillance doesn't necessarily balance out the possible negative uses of the Internet cameras. A webcam can turn anyone into a sex object, for example, without their ever being aware of it. Bill Brown, a member of a group that calls itself the Surveillance Camera Players, and gives free walking tours pointing out surveillance cameras in New York City, also wonders if all the cameras trained on public spaces in the U.S. -- from landmarks to national monuments and squares like Heritage Square in Flagstaff -- might help terrorists a world away plot their next attack.

"If we are worried about al-Qaida doing surveillance of tourist spots in America," wonders Brown, "then why would we install webcams that allow such surveillance, but from a distance, as far away as Pakistan? Satisfy the tourists, but don't give away too much to the terrorists; it's a weird balancing act."

Brown's concerns could conceivably mobilize the public, which in general doesn't seem excessively alarmed by ubiquitous surveillance [...]

(Written by Katharine Mieszkowski and published on 25 September 2003 by www.salon.com.)

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail SCP@notbored.org

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998