Another kind of video surveillance

6 Jun

Not content with having his own private uniformed police force patrolling the streets of Newham, Sir Robin Wales has now set up his own Internet monitoring group. This special team of ‘enforcement officers’ spends its time watching YouTube videos as part of a “crackdown” (arrggghh!) on gang culture.

A report on the BBC website says this has been going on since January and 500 videos have been identified, of which YouTube has agreed to remove 76.

You have to wonder how much this is costing and whether it is in the least bit effective. Taking down just 76 videos isn’t much a success rate out of the 500 this team found – clearly YouTube has a more robust understanding of the concept of freedom of speech than our mayor. And how many hours of YouTube did they have to watch to find those?

The mayor says this is being done to “reduce publicity” for gangs, but it looks to me like the start of a very dangerous and slippery slope. Today it’s gang-related videos, tomorrow who knows… political criticism of the council?

In these times of financial constraint, is this really what people expect the council to be spending its money on?

The crowning irony though is that the same mayor that is trying to take down tiny amounts of Internet video is busily collecting hundreds of hours of footage of ordinary people going about their daily business via his massive CCTV network.

UPDATE: I have submitted an FOI request to Newham council about the costs of this new YouTube monitoring unit:


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