Feeds

Italians take the 'p' to fight back against Big Brother

Panopticon to Anopticon: Opposing the surveillance state

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Italians are fighting back against the surveillance society with a grass roots project designed to publicise the location of CCTV cameras – and to "out" those that have been set up contrary to Italian Law.

The "Anopticon" project, which was launched earlier this year, is a deliberate parody of the "panopticon" – an ideal prison first put forward by Jeremy Bentham in 1791. Its inhabitants were forced to conform to social standards, as even the slightest action they take is watched by "all-seeing" guards.

If the "panopticon" is an environment in which everything is seen, an "anopticon" would be one in which private activity remains private and free from surveillance.

The initial "Anopticon project" was started with a website launched by a Venice-based group, who used online mapping as a means to pinpoint publicly where all known CCTV sites in Venice are situated. Since then, it has spread out to other cities, including Padova, Foggia, Urbnino and Solero.

It is also supported by a (small) group on Facebook.

Although the project began with the simple aim of revealing where cameras were located, it has already concluded that a high proportion of CCTVs are not lawful, in that they fail to provide the "information notice" required by Legislative Decree 196/2003 (the Italian equivalent of the Data Protection Directive).

In addition to surveying camera location and legality, the project has therefore expanded recently, with a call for Italian supporters to "out" those cameras that do not comply with existing law.

This has led to a new campaign - "Denounce illegal CCTVs" – which will actively seek to identify every surveillance device that does not respect Italian data protection law (including the need for an "information notice"). Details of these devices will then be passed to the Italian Data Protection Authority.

The Anopticon project appears to be an implementation of a similar initiative proposed for the UK on the mySociety projects blog. This is a space where individuals can put forward ideas that would aid in the maintenance of an open society.

Back in 2003, the project proposer justified such a system as a means to "watch the watchers", allowing the public to be instantly aware of where they are being watched and by whom. They write:

"By inviting members of the public armed with GPS (or able to use online mapping services to retrieve coordinates) we can map out CCTV locations within the UK and track who owns them by their Data Protection Act signs. Members of the public can input information about the people in control of CCTV systems to build up a picture of the organisations who are monitoring the public. The entries can be checked by a rating and peer review system."

According to mySociety director, Tom Steinberg, this proposal never went any further. ®

Bootnote

The Anopticon mentioned in this story should not be confused with the fictional anopticon device created by Isaac Asimov for his short story 'Anniversary', and hinted at in his earlier story 'Marooned Off Vesta'.

The device in the story was so named as it focused light using force fields rather than lenses, allowing a small object the size of a pair of field glasses to function as both a microscope and a telescope.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?