Volume 93, Issue 58

Thursday, January 13, 2000


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Big Brother not all that bad

Editorial cartoon

Big Brother not all that bad

This spring, Big Brother will be visiting London in the form of 18 cameras to be installed in the downtown and Richmond row areas.

Traditionally, any mention of increased surveillance entering our lives has been met with outrage and accusations of restricted freedom. But in the big picture, are the City's actions really such a bad thing?

The University Students' Council doesn't think so. They voted to support the idea by offering $6,000 to help purchase one of the cameras – and rightfully so. Although there are some serious concerns associated with monitoring the activities of the downtown area, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

The program will cost $200,000 to implement and roughly the same amount each year to keep the cameras rolling around the clock. If this system is able to catch even one potential murderer or rapist, is that worth the cost? Absolutely.

Such surveillance is already a part of our everyday lives. Cameras infiltrate stores almost everywhere and have aided in the capture of countless criminals who are now unable to strike again. Given the state of London's downtown area, these cameras are arriving just in time.

It's obvious that the threat of surveillance alone will help deter crime. The mere risk of getting caught is often enough to make a perpetrator think twice. But if they choose not to think twice, they could finally be held accountable for their actions.

It's not pleasant to consider the grim reality of crime in London, but the simple fact of the matter is that these cameras will act as one more tool with which police can track down criminals.

Like many useful social services, we as citizens must be willing to sacrifice a small part in order to maintain the greater interests of the community. This small decrease to our levels of privacy is ultimately worth the net results. In addition, it's important to remember these cameras are slated to be situated in high-traffic, public areas. It's not exactly as if we're losing our rights to personal privacy – if a person doesn't want to be seen walking down a street, then they're not going to be out in public in the first place.

Of course, like anything, this program is only good in moderation and therein lies the real reason for many people's concern. If this is the first step towards a city under constant surveillance, then it is obviously a step in the wrong direction. But considering that only 18 cameras will be installed in problem areas, it's safe to say this can only do more good than harm.

Nobody wants Big Brother watching us all the time, but there may be some merit in allowing him to take a look every now and again.

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