Carrying a camera in central London is enough "grounds for suspicion" for police to bring you in and ask you a few questions. In an era where surveillance equipment is the smartphone in your pocket, James Bridle looks at the historic walls that protected the city of London and how these have evolved from stone to electromagnetic.
At the same time, camera systems deployed at the airports in the outer reaches of the zone have already developed the ability to read human faces, irises, expressions and gaits in exactly the same manner as their ANPR predecessors, and build unique, storeable profiles from them. While it’s always amusing to think of how such systems could be evaded through the use of masks or disruptive patterns, it should be noted that Section 60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, deployed across Central London on the night of 5th November 2014, gives the Police the right to define a zone in which anyone refusing to reveal their face may be imprisoned for up to a month.
Each Wall, and the Abstract Wall in its totality, is a model-mirror of social processes. As the Third Wall is the natural product of the expansion of financial systems and logics from the banking sector into every other, and the Fourth Wall addresses the mechanisation of the supply chain and the domination of logistics systems, so the Fifth goes hand in hand with the rapidly expanding privatisation of public space, the latest weapon being deployed against Londoners’ lingering desire for the freedoms of city life.
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