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Opinion: Nik Butler, @loudmouthman

In a previous column I expressed my views on the subject of CCTV. I consider that it is no more than policing by proxy and it is the act of a lazy society.

What amazes me is that there are schools where CCTV is common place and so much so that it has been implemented in areas that might once have been considered thoroughly private places. What I fail to understand is how we are not outraged or angered at this complacent approach to the provision of care for our children.

Should any news article attempt to discuss the presence of CCTV, there is the inevitable requirement to frame the article in terms of Big Brother. In this particular instance, Big Brother Watch is raising the issue directly. The fact that a book by George Orwell has been subverted culturally to refer to an Endemol reality TV show of the same name suggests we are more than likely sleepwalking into an Aldous Huxley Brave New World rather than devolving towards Oceania.

Huxley’s Brave New World suggested that people would become deluged in information and entertainment and that egotism and passive expectations for entertainment would drown out people’s awareness that they were losing control of their lives. Here we are then in the 21st Century. The cameras are everywhere and available in many devices, but very few people are angry or concerned.

In Orwell’s vision it was not the cameras in themselves that were the problem. Instead it was the action of every citizen in watching other citizens in order to report suspicious behaviour, which sounds like every announcement in a public space you hear today.

Most of our days include at least one more screen with which we can continue to consume and communicate. I suspect we now have more screens around us than Horsham has coffee shops. The world of marketing has created the phrase for this new experience, the second screen. In having saturated our televisions, the original first screen, we mostly carry a second in which to reduce our attention by way of being entertained through irrelevance.

Meanwhile the erosion of privacy and personal space continues as the tidal wave of media entertainment distracts us all from the question: Why is it okay to have CCTV monitoring in schools but no live video or audio broadcasts from a local council meeting?

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