Michaels: Big Brother has become a big letdown

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal.”

If the ghost of Christmas past was to sweep us back to the year 2000 and ask, “are you comfortable with cameras being installed in local parks and public spaces?” I bet I know what you would have said.

It would have been something like, “Heck, no” and, maybe, “why is everyone here blonde and wearing a trucker cap?”

Then there would be mention of Big Brother, George Orwell’s 1984 masterpiece, and the fears that are rightly associated with a totalitarian state. Completely legitimate fears, if you ask my humble opinion. As we can see by looking south of the border, governments can go sideways fast.

But there have been a lot of changes since the turn of the Century, and as the ghost of Christmas present would show us, nobody looks up from their smartphone long enough to give a darn about personal privacy anymore. We gave it away with a good deal on the latest gadgets, running the fastest apps.

At least that’s the takeaway from an innocuous budget item I wrote about earlier this week that garnered little to no response.

RELATED: EYES ON KELOWNA’S CRIME HOTSPOTS

In the 2018 financial plan the city mentions, for the first time I’ve heard of, that they launched a CCTV security monitoring program in July and August, amounting to eyes being on the city at all times.

“Each year there is a marked increase in security issues in the downtown core,” reads an item, requesting $30,000 funding a year, for the next three years, to keep the pilot program running.

Areas of concern include, but are not limited to, the parkades, Queensway Transit Exchange, City Hall, Stuart Park and Kasugai Garden.

The program produced 425 co-ordinated responses to emergent situations involving criminal activity, mischief, loitering and vandalism, reads the report, noting that the pilot was very successful, particularly the rapid response component.

“If the budget item is to increase security funding and implement a full-time CCTV monitoring program for the city, the deliverable is a safer city through proactive response to security concerns related to intoxication, drug use, theft and confrontation/aggressive behaviour from transients, homeless, youth and individuals known to law enforcement,” according to the budget request.

The saying goes, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal to those of us who aren’t in the underworld.

Privacy is a limit on government power, as well as the power of private sector companies. The more that’s known about us, the more power people can have over us, the less control we have over our reputations and so on.

Maybe I’m just paranoid, but these things should be more important to us. Only the ghost of Christmas future will be able to say.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

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