Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another comment on Security Theatre

This is what needs saying more often.
Time to fight security superstition | Technology |
The Met's latest poster campaign urges Londoners who spot "unusual" activity to ring the police and let them know. Examples include someone taking pictures of CCTV cameras or acting out of the ordinary. After all, these are dangerous times, and we all must be vigilant.
Contrast this for a moment with an earlier dangerous time: the Blitz. Bombs rained down upon London on a near-daily basis, killing, maiming and laying waste to whole neighbourhoods (one American friend recently described a trip around east London where his hosts pointed to every car park and said, "Of course, that was bombed in the Blitz" – and came away with the impression that Hitler had dropped car parks on Hackney).
Back then, the government's message to the people wasn't "Take your shoes off" or "place your liquids in this bag". Instead, King George's printer stuck up millions of royal red posters bearing the legend "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON."

Let's leave aside the fact that I've been to Hackney and I'm convinced that Blitzing it again could only improve the overall look of the place. Seriously. It's over 60 years since the Blitz. Time to get an estimate on repairing some of the damage.
We have to be able to question authority or it's authoritarian. I'm not willing to back anything less.
If terrorists are a danger to London, then the only way to be safe is to talk about real threats and real countermeasures, to question the security around us and shut down the systems that don't work.
We can't rely on the authorities to defend us against attacks that outstrip their capacity to adapt to them. Remember, the same police force that's plastering London with signs exhorting us to "let experienced officers decide what action to take" is the same police force that gunned down a Brazilian for wearing an overcoat, and shut down Soho when a Thai restaurant burned its chilli sauce, releasing spicy smoke.
Real security needs real information. Real information comes from real freedom.

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