A disgruntled resident of Camden, in London, recently posted a video online depicting the source of his gruntlessness:
It shows a little garden-y area outside a block of flats, which he describes as being home to “no illegal activity… no anti-social behaviour“, but which has had a security system installed that instructs him to leave this “restricted area”.
Which seems a little over-the-top, to say the least, for such a low-key, trouble-free place to start seeing these machines popping up threatening to send photographs of people’s faces “for processing”. Who’s going to be processing them, and to what end?
It’s this weird approach to asserting their authority – which more than one commentator has likened to something from Robocop – that’s the most worrying issue. They’re not just keeping an eye on who’s using this space, and recording certain images which can be referred back to for information in the event of, say, a violent incident. They’re also blaring a stern American voice at passing citizens, ordering them what to do in a manner that expects immediate obedience and brooks no dissent.
The message is quite clearly designed to intimidate, to elicit fear, and to cow people into doing what they’re told by their superiors.
Little of which, I suspect, was genuinely in the hearts of the council officials who explained that the voice message was an accident that arose during a battery replacement. But even the fact that such authoritarian browbeating can happen mistakenly merits our attention. Even if it may not have been heralding an oncoming police state, this is exactly the kind of intrusion of over-zealous security measures we should be prepared to make noise about.