British authorities are installing talking security cameras in 20 locations throughout the country to try to crack down on offenders, the BBC is reporting.
The cameras, already in use in Middlesbrough, England, warn miscreants via a loudspeaker about minor offenses such as littering. Workers in control centers there monitor 12 cameras and can talk directly to citizens when they spot violations. Officials say they have prevented fights and cut litter levels.
Authorities in the U.K.--the country that gave the world Nineteen Eighty-Fourauthor George Orwell and his critique of surveillance societies--also use self-activated "speed cameras" to monitor driving habits.
Privacy advocates were troubled by the idea of a Big Brother-ish voice hectoring passers-by.
"Apart from being absurd, I think it's rather sad that we should have faceless cameras barking at us on orders from who? Who sets these cameras up?" said opponent Steve Hills.
Blog community response:
"Red light cameras. Radar speed cameras. Crowd surveillance cameras. Now, talking cameras. Where does it end?"
"This almost sounds like a joke especially the part with the camera talking to you but if I were there, I would not think it was too funny. So there you have it, Orwell DID predict the future."
"While it's sad that this is necessary (what does it say that people are so antisocial that a 'respect tzar' needs to spend 500,000 pounds -- just under a million dollars -- to tell people to pick up their trash?), if people aren't going to observe common courtesy on their own, then they've proven that they need a measure like this."
--Running With Rocks and Paper