George Orwell and Friends

Guess the answer before reading on.

Poll #876913 Orwell Lives!

What's the most surveilled country in the world?

United Kingdom
United States

Now that I've moved to the UK, many people ask me if I did it to escape US politics. They often don't seem to care that the UK is the most heavily surveilled country in the world. We already have 1 CCTV (closed circuit television) camera for every 14 people. A day in London results in you being photographed hundreds of times. In London, there's an "Oyster" card which lets you travel on public transportation at a lower cost than paying for individual trips. The police gather that data. It's also illegal not to register to vote, so there's now a complete history of everywhere you've ever lived. And there's plenty more. If you think it's not a problem, read the original report which found that Britian was the most watched country (PDF).

Or you could just read the news and find out for yourself.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There's more. Much more. But so many Brits have told me they don't mind. "After all," they say, "you just get used to the cameras."

I recall velvetdahlia mentioning how often the average person was photographed in the UK during a regular day. Shocking really.

Liberty, freedom___________safety, security

Can it possibly balance out?
Liberty and security aren't always tradeoffs. There are ways to increase security without significantly decreasing liberty—for example, having more police on the street or refunding taxes on burglar alarms. Similarly, some methods decrease liberty without increasing security very much—for example, checking government-issued IDs to enter buildings or having speech-recognition software listen to every domestic phone call in a country.

If you're saying that we need to find the right balance between liberty and security, you've already lost the argument. What we need to do is find the methods of maximizing security that least impact liberty.
I'd assume Franklin. Since that is who it's always seemd that Schneier reads.
I have come across several occasions where surveillance cameras have been useful, but the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'. I was not aware that it was illegal not to register to vote. (In Australia, it's illegal not to vote) This may a hang-over from the Poll Tax days (thank god they've gone).

I am vehemently opposed to ID cards. I carry a driver's licence, credit crads, and a couple of store loyalty cards (which monitor my spending habits). As you rightly point out, if I lived and travelled in London, my movements would be monitored by my Oyster card, as well as the CCTV cameras on every street corner.

But hey, at least we can demonstrate against the War in Iraq without government persecution. Then most they do is ignore us ;)
I was also rather surprised to find out that it's mandatory to register to vote. It wasn't until I read about that on the BBC (and subsequently found out that virtually no one is ever prosecuted for failure to do so) that I learned about this. Of course, this could explain why I keep getting letters from the government urging me to register. Maybe I should give in and do so :)
Why? At least it guarantees a majority turn-out. In the last General election in 2005 in Britain, only 61% bothered to vote. Spoilt ballot papers are no longer counted as protest votes and are ignored. I think compulsory voting is a good idea. Every time there is an election, I argue this out with my anarchist husband!
The quality of the ballots in those who are only voting because they have to is zero. People will go to the polling place, pick a name at random, and leave.
Andy, while I tend to agree with you, I don't know if you have evidence that this is so or just a suspicion. I don't like compulsory voting (not quite keen on compulsory anything, to be honest) but I don't know if it's necessarily the case that a society which actively encourages people to follow their civic duty necessarily has a significantly worse process than the alternative. I'd much prefer to see some studies which give indications as to how this actually affects things.
I'm not concerned about how much it affects things. If voting is compulsory, then there will be a non-zero number of people who go and vote simply because they have to and pick a name at random.

I don't want to from people who are only doing something because they have to. I want it to be a choice.
If voting were to be compulsory, then obviously we would need a "none of those bastards" option on the ballot paper. I believe that this is the case in Australia.

And, of course, if "none of those bastards" won, then the election would have to be re-run with different candidates.

But an easier way of encouraging people to vote, without making it compulsory to register, would be to pay people ten quid to register and another tenner when they actually show up and vote. You never know, by cutting down on admin crap that might even turn out to be cheaper too!
The "none of the above" doesn't address the problem, which is that people are voting when they don't care, have put no thought into it, and have no interest in the results. Or at least not enough to go vote on their own.

If they vote randomly as you suggested they might, then it won't affect the results as the extra votes will be spread evenly amongst all candidates.

What I expect they're more likely to do is either vote for the silly candidates like the National Jam And Lobster Party and so not have any effect on the results, or specifically vote against the government. The latter is *always* a good thing in my opinion, even when my preferred party is in power, as it would tend to make the party in power change. Parties that remain in power for too long get arrogant, corrupt and stupid - the current and previous regimes are clear evidence of this, in that they were mostly fairly sensible in their first few years and then went bat-shit crazy.
If they vote randomly as you suggested they might, then it won't affect the results as the extra votes will be spread evenly amongst all candidates.

I'm not interested in what the effects are statistically. I don't care to have votes counted of those who don't care enough to vote.
Trailer on new CCTV documentary
There is a new documentary on video surveillance (CCTV) in Britain coming out, and this time, the topic seems to be covered in a more critical way. There's a trailer online:

Every Step You Take (
i always thought that the most effective population control was to spay or neuter your pets.

oh, wait.

i find it very interesting that an oyster card would require registration -- why would a criminal register their card to their real information, it just doesn't make sense. that net would only catch the dumbest of criminals.
There has been a high profile case this week in which a couple of teenagers were convicted of the murder of a young city lawyer outside a tube station. They stole his mobile, £20 and his Travelcard, then stabbed him to death. They were caught because they used both the phone and the travelcard, which of course was registered to a dead man. D'uh. Stupid criminals deserve to be caught.
But what's worse, one study suggests that three out of four Brits are happy about all of this.

Saddam Hussein also got 100% of the vote in his elections. 'Official' figures are arse.
What's more, a girlfriend who lives in London was attacked by a group of men after clubbing one night. Though it happened in view of two cameras, the police didn't obtain the video to assist in solving the crime. They believed she was a hooker (as she was dressed for the goth club), so didn't bother to do anything.
If she has evidecnce of this, she should approach the Police Complaints Commission about it. I sympathise greatly with your friend, but as stated above, the plural of 'Anecdote' is not 'data'.

The police screw up all the time. My best friend was stabbed in London by a 14 year-old kid. The police caught the fucker, but couldn't prosecute because his mother lied about his whereabouts that night.