FC: Steve Mann and Surveil. Cam Players on how to watch the watchers

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 10:22:57 PST

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    Date: 	Thu, 8 Nov 2001 23:09:23 -0500 (EST)
    From: mannat_private
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: Re: airport security; What's the problem with totalitarianism...
    Cc: mannat_private
    Declan, here's a response for your list, which I think your politech readers
    may find to be of interest:
     >From: John Gilmore <gnuat_private>
     >Cc: declanat_private, gnuat_private
     >Wendy, you said:
     > > All in all, I don't understand the problem with face-cams at borders or
     > > airports. It affects only those whose pictures already appear in a 
     > > and so the issue should be--who's in the database, not whether or not 
    we use
     > > this unobtrusive technology.
     >You're close to right.  The issue is whether the public will ever be privy
     >to how those cameras actually work.
     >But the catch is that once they put up the cameras, there is no way
     >for the public to know WHAT way they are being used.  They could
    In my new book (published through Randomhouse, Doubleday, with link
    from http://wearcam.org/cyborg.htm) I introduce the notion of
    sousveillance (inverse surveillance).  Following Simon Davies' definition
    of "totalitarian regime" we can use a camera as a simple totalitarian
    tester, e.g. what happens when ordinary citizens photograph officials,
    (and perhaps enter their faces into a database)?  If the officials
    are upset, we have what we might call a "totalitarian regime".
    Davies notes that a totalitarian regime is one in which the regime
    would like to know everything about everyone but reveal nothing about
    itself.  Thus the real question is not so much whether or not we
    have face cams, but, the real question is whether or not officials
    also submit to being held accountable (e.g. by way of sousveillance),
    in the same way we submit to surveillance.
    In my book I describe 20 years of wearing camera systems, in most
    day-to-day life, and how people have responded.  Most notable is
    the response of officials.  It seems that officials are the ones
    most afraid of accountability.
    Thus the creation of World Sousveillance Day (http://wearcam.org/wsd.htm)
    every year, December 24th in which passengers photograph cab drivers,
    customers photograph shopkeepers, citizens photograph police, etc..
    There is also a photo competition to encourage participants to send
    in pictures to be included in a national face recognition database.
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
    Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 21:36:40 -0500
    To: notboredat_private
    From: SCP-New York <notboredat_private>
    Subject: performance against face recognition software
    In answer to the call recently issued by FANCLUB in Manchester, England
    (see below), the New York SCP will be cutting into the sight lines of a
    public web
    camera -- an Internet surveillance device -- operated by a
    privacy-insensitive company on Saturday 17 November 2001 to protest against
    face recognition software.
    Used to match freshly captured images of people's faces against databases,
    face recognition software is now being introduced at airports all over the
    United States (Oakland, Boston, Providence, Denver) to combat so-called
    The NY SP's performance will start at exactly 4:30 pm Eastern Standard Time
    (1:30 pm in California, 9:30 pm in London and 10:30 pm in Berlin), will
    last about 10 minutes, and will be repeated twice if possible.
    this URL is your browser supports Java
    this URL if your browser doesn't support Java (remember to click "Reload"
    every 15 seconds or so)
    For more information, contact (212) 561-0106 <notboredat_private>
    FANCLUB offers a ---
    In response to the developments in face recognition software FANCLUB are
    making a performance gesture for Futuresonic. Using Futuresonic's map of
    surveillance cameras in Manchester, a team of performers will walk through
    Manchester city performing for the cameras with big crosses shaved on their
    This is an idiot-proof and cheap alternative to face recognition software,
    it will assist the surveillance workers to spot the trouble-makers, thus
    saving much needed capital.
    We are performing in an arts festival here in Nottingham. The production
    manager Kamal is directing a sonic festival, with an
    art/activist/surveillance theme in Manchester 13-18 November. They've
    produced a map of all the surveillance cameras in the city centre.
    They have commisioned uk artists to make work from SC footage recovered
    through the data protection act. This is a collaboration with the
    comedian/activist Mark Thomas from Channel 4 fame. All very interesting!
    FANCLUB info contact
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
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    Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
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