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Yes, Internet Eyes Is A 'Snooper's Paradise'

Internet Eyes is a new UK-based business website that provides you with four random camera feeds on your special member's page. Should you come to believe you are seeing a) shop lifting, b) burlary, c) vandalism or d) anti social behavior, you then press your alert button, thereby alerting the owner of the property surveilled.


(Internet eyes lets you catch criminals online)

The Internet Eyes website FAQ strictly discourages the idea that their service "is creating a “snoopers paradise”, “snitching” “a game” or “gambling”" although users will be strictly anonymous and the person who catches the most miscreants will be awarded a 1,000 pound prize each month.

Users of the service can receive a point when the camera owner thinks you acted in good faith even though what you saw wasn't actually a criminal act. Also, you only get three free alerts per month; if you think you're seeing more crime than that, you have to pay one pound for an additional three alerts.

I can't think of an instance in science fiction in which ordinary citizens snoop on each other with camera feeds. In Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith says that you never know if a person is watching you over that telescreen or not; it might be that they are never watching or it might be that every telescreen feed is always monitored by a person.

Consider the following scene from Ray Bradbury's 1954 novel Fahrenheit 451, in which the totalitarian, book-burning government is looking for the novel's hero, who is on the run for reading books:

"Police suggest entire population in the Elm Terrace area do as follows: Everyone in every house in every street open a front or rear door or look from the windows. The fugitive cannot escape if everyone in the next minute looks from his house. Ready!"

Of course! Why hadn't they done it before! Why, in all the years, hadn't this game been tried! Everyone up, everyone out...

He imagined thousands on thousands of faces peering into yards, into alleys, and into the sky, faces hid by curtains, pale, night-frightened faces, like gray animals peering from electronic caves, faces with gray colorless eyes, gray tongues, and gray thoughts looking out through the numb flesh of the face...
(Read more about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451)

Now, I guess citizens don't even have to peer outside their electronic caves.

In his 1999 novel All Tomorrow's Parties, writer William Gibson writes about the "Lucky Dragon Global Interactive Video Column" outside an international chain of convenience stores. It would show you randomly selected live feeds from the video surveillance cameras in other stores all over the world.

You had to pass it entering and leaving the store, so you'd see whichever dozen Lucky Dragons franchise [it] happened to be linked with at that particular moment: Paris or Houston or Brazzaville, wherever.
(Read more about Interactive Video Column)

In Gibson's novel, the interactive video columns are presented as if they were a cable channel, for entertainment.

Go to the Internet Eyes website via the Daily Mail; thanks to Sabre Runner for pointing this one out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/11/2009)

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