Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Another Way to Fight Big Brother: Sousveillance Is Turning the Lens-And the Tables-On the Watchers

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Another Way to Fight Big Brother: Sousveillance Is Turning the Lens-And the Tables-On the Watchers

Article excerpt

Watching Amy Winehouse lash out at Glastonbury this year (YouTube brings out the worst in me), I was surprised by the number of cameraphones the star had thrust in her face by the front row of the Pyramid Stage crowd. When your fans start treating you as badly as the paparazzi do, is it any wonder you crack?

This column has written a lot about surveillance, but in a world of cheap, portable technology, there is also sousveillance.

Sousveillance, or "watching from underneath", counters the unblinking eye in the sky with millions of tiny blinking ones belonging to each one of us. In the surveillance society, or so the theory goes, sousveillance is the tool of the surveilled, keeping a watchful eye on the watchers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The term was coined by Steve Mann, a Canadian computer science professor whom the Globe and Mail called "the world's first cyborg", thanks to his penchant for using wearable web cameras to record and broadcast his every move. That was back in the Nineties--it took the invention of the cameraphone for the rest of us to catch up. This month, I watched a video uploaded by someone who had been subject to a random stop-and-search at Waterloo Station under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act and who captured the incident on his cameraphone (watch it at http://qik.com/video/203590). One man's experience of a chillingly routine exercise in security is as powerful as any parliamentary debate in bringing home the realities of an encroaching police state. …

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