There’s always someone watching
Earlier this month, I watched an interesting movie. In it, a man uses his special abilities to spot anything that moves. No matter how fast things move, they all seem to slow down for him.
He decides to use his unique ability by working at a local surveillance control center. He reunites with a girl he used to like in elementary school. As they get closer, the woman says “hi” to the surveillance camera, knowing he would never miss her greeting. By watching surveillance footage, he solves various crimes, and in the end, he loses his vision but finds the love of his life. It was a moving and pleasant film.
But throughout the movie, something was unsettling: the ubiquitous presence of surveillance cameras. In the movie, it was possible to confirm faces and see license plates as long as closed-circuit cameras were installed in the vicinity. The movement of cars passing by could be predicted. It was certainly dramatized for the movie, but reality is not much different.
With the rate of technological advancements, this could soon be possible. Incheon International Airport is a good example. Inside and outside the airport, there are 1,500 surveillance cameras, and except for the restrooms and some offices, the entire facility is within the range of a camera. A few years ago, a kidnapping case at the airport was solved by analyzing surveillance footage.
Cameras are installed all around the country. More than 560,000 public cameras are managed by public agencies and local government offices. The number is even greater if we count privately installed cameras. There are 110 integrated control centers connecting 220,000 public CCTV cameras. While the number varies for each region, the coverage is considerable. Whether you want it or not, you are constantly being watched.
While being under observation is not so pleasant, we cannot ignore the positive function of surveillance cameras. They are necessary for crime prevention and security. But the problem is how they are utilized and managed. They can be abused for illegal tracing or surveillance. In fact, such illegal uses have been revealed.
However, some local government offices have poor management and security in the control centers, as staff lack professional skills and supervision. The issue is always addressed in the regular National Assembly inspection.
These faulty operations must be supplemented as soon as possible. Just like the controversy over social media censorship, which resulted in a large-scale cyber exodus, the surveillance camera could face intense resistance. The government should not give any more anxiety or worries to its citizens.
The author is the national news editor of JTBC.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 16, Page 38
By KANG KAP-SAENG