Img/2012/5/7/cctv-small.jpgLondon: Surveillance cameras are now so powerful that they are able to zoom in and read text messages, leading to fears of further privacy intrusion by a ‘Big Brother’ style state, it has been revealed.As well as being advanced enough to close in on an individual’s phone screen, security cameras will soon be able to pick up on raised voices and sniff out drugs too.
The revelations were made at a privacy conference in Wellington, New Zealand, where it was also disclosed that the average person is digitally recorded about a dozen times a day.
During last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand CCTV cameras focused in on the crowd of thousands to read the text message someone was sending.
As part of extensive police monitoring during the tournament, camera operators scanned the spectators looking for suspicious looking packages and aggressive behaviour.
They then chose to zoom in on one man who was texting, although it turned out he was simply writing about the poor quality of the rugby match.
Experts warned the fact that the cameras were able to do this, raises concerns about breeches of individual’s privacy.
Civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott described the pervasiveness of surveillance as “worrying” and warned of the extent people’s private lives were being intruded upon.
“It’s quite worrying when we, by default, move to some sort of Orwellian 1984 where the state or Big Brother watches your every move,” a newspaper quoted him as saying.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions and we don`t realise what we are giving up when we give the state the power to monitor our private lives,” he said.
However, others argued the camera’s ability to zoom in on texts would be helpful in preventing crimes, including rioting.
The conference also discussed how technological developments meant that soon cameras will be able to pick up on raised voices and sniffing devices will be able to detect drug residue.
First Published: Monday, May 07, 2012, 21:21