The Institute of Applied Autonomy was founded in 1998 as a technological research and development organization dedicated to the cause of individual and collective self-determination. Our mission is to study the forces and structures which affect self-determination and to provide technologies which extend the autonomy of human activists. This is, in their own words, their mission statement. This has lead to quite some fascinating projects.
i-See is one of them: it's a web-based application that makes it possible to find a route on which one encounters the least CCTV-cameras (the so-called "path of least surveillance"). Why, you might ask? Well, CCTV in public space isn't only a nice and cozy tool to help people feel safer (that it doesn't do all that much to actually reduce crime is another issue), but there's a number cases of misuse of the system of on-camera control. Without going too much into details: In the UK, some years ago, Barrie Goulding released "Caught in the Act" a video compilation of "juicy bits" from street video surveillance systems. Featuring intimate contacts including one scene of a couple having sex in an elevator this video sensationalized footage of ordinary people engaged in (mostly) legal but nonetheless private acts.
But it's more than just that: have you ever considered the odds of being singled out on camera? And have you considered the rise of these odds if you are of some sort of racial minority? Or if you are an attractive young woman?
Well, thank god for i-See, I'd say: there's a way to get around all of this. Or at least: as much as possible. The ongoing proliferation of CCTV-camera's will pretty soon reach a point where almost every inch of public realm in the western world is monitored - whatever the reason might be.