Living under constant surveillance

EVAN PRETZER | Evergreen columnist

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In the graphic novel “V for Vendetta,” British writer Alan Moore showed readers a horrifying vision of a United Kingdom ruled by an authoritarian government. Free speech was squashed, torture was rampant, and surveillance of the population was widespread in this dark tale from the 1980s.

Sensible people never thought this sort of thing could happen at all, let alone in America. Sadly, they were wrong.

In Michigan, city leaders in Ypsilanti Township have announced a plan to place surveillance cameras in every neighborhood in the city, according to MLive.com. In whatever exists after death, I’m sure George Orwell is shaking his head and shedding a tear or two.

It truly blows my mind that Americans are still not up in arms over the disturbing rise of the surveillance industrial complex in this country. CNN reports that NSA agents can abuse the technology at their disposal to spy on love interests, and the public says nothing. They must be too busy watching the Oscars or sending out some drunken tweets.

It gets worse. Residents of the area are also being made to foot the bill for this gross expansion of police power, according to the same article by MLive.com.

Although city leaders have said the fee for this essential ‘public safety’ feature is miniscule, they have also forgotten to mention a very important detail. The poverty rate in Ypsilanti Township is more than 10 percent, as reported by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

From a humanitarian perspective, I am resolutely opposed to this idea. When the poor cannot pay the fees for this useless service that has been shown to have no effect on violent crime, according to CCTV, they will get fined by Township leaders. They will then not be able to pay those larger fines and will continue to be stuck in the hopeless rut of poverty. No person or group of people deserves that fate in the 21st century.

I am also hostile to this sort of thing due to abuses that have occurred with similar technology at the federal level. One does not have to look far online to find them.

On Jan. 30, a former TSA agent admitted that the government agency responsible for airport security spends most of its time targeting attractive women for pat downs and laughing at the body scan images of overweight passengers, according to POLITICO.

If these cameras are put in place at the local level, something similar could happen. I do not want such amazing technology used to mess with people who don’t deserve it.

Americans need to get off the couch and become more aware of the creepy intrusions going on in their nation. If they don’t, they’ll gaze in horror and dismay at what the nation will look like 10 or 20 years in the future.

– Evan Pretzer is a junior communication major from from Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.