Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Big Brother is Now Listening.

If you pause for a serene moment while walking or cycling down Aberdeen's Airyhall Road / Rocklands Road at sunrise you might be treated to a view of crepuscular rays.

Which is nice.

Buddha's Fingers. Sun Drawing Water. Ropes of Maui.

By chance, I'd stopped at the rear gate of the new private sector International School of Aberdeen at Pitfodels. Where I discovered that they reserve the right to surveil me not only by image capture, but also by audio recording. For my personal safety!

Operators name and contact details left blank, we notice.
Which is less nice.

According to their website, the International School of Aberdeen provides:
(Their emphasis.)
"a safe and caring learning environment where students are challenged to reach their maximum potential through academic success and personal growth, becoming socially responsible and active global citizens." 
Indeed. One of the ways in which they hope to achieve this "mission" is to spy upon passers-by who use the ancient right-of-way which runs past the rear of their high-tech new building.

We cannot help thinking that rather than producing high-school graduates who are "socially responsible and active global citizens", the poor expat kids who are educated behind this ring of stone and steel which bristles with such suspicion are more likely being engineered to become socially paranoid and insular, segregated from the society in which they live - implicitly and explicitly being taught that those who live in that society need watching. And listening out for.

Why do they want to hear us as well as watch?

2 comments:

rxpell said...

I think if it operates the CCTV on its own (not via a 3rd party) they can get away with not having any details there as they are the operator on their own premesis (but I stand to be corrected by anyone more up to speed with the law). They are still going to be bound by data protection and human rights laws, so if you have any concerns, you could make an enquiry to the Scottish Information Commissioner who should have details of their operation and what their data retention policies are.

Other Aberdeen said...

Thanks for that rxpell, that's great info.

FWIW, we're not in the first instance concerned about data retention, though that flows from our major concern. What really exercises us is the prevalence of systematic data capture which we now see (the post is about a site in the green belt!) and the effect that living in a society which regards it as normal (and excuses as being beneficial) has on us; our relations with each other, businesses and the state; and our expectations for the future of that society.

We contend that surveillance of this type is not normal, but it is now difficult to remember a UK without it. How did this happen? Why? Why did we let it? How can we even begin to dismantle it? What then would the UK be like if we did?

It amazes us that we still hear from people who want more and better surveillance - it is as if they are caught in a howling screech of psychic feedback. The more they are surveilled and the more they are aware of the surveillance state, the more under threat they feel. They then call for more and higher resolution surveillance technology to counter this perceived threat. Thus they volunteer us all for the panopticon.