This week on my podcast, I read my lastest Locus column. “The Swivel-Eyed Loons Have a Point,” about the unlikely – but undeniable – common ground I share with the most unhinged far-right conspiracists.
The swivel-eyed loons at the anti-15-minute-city protests point out that such a scheme constitutes a form of pervasive location-tracking surveillance, and that this surveillance could be leveraged to attack disfavored minorities. They’re not wrong. Just look at London, where a (again, perfectly sensible) system of “congestion charging” and “low-emissions zones” has made serious progress in improving the air quality, reducing traffic, and improving journey times for public transit.
London also uses ALPRs to enforce its traffic restrictions, and pairs this with a massive public/private network of street cameras aimed at pedestrians, backstopped by a public transit system whose Oyster payment cards are virtually impossible to use anonymously.
The thing is, the UK government has a long history of abusing this kind of power. The Metropolitan London police ran a 40-year covert operation to infiltrate, track, and disrupt trade union organizers and activists, from students to Members of Parliament. The Met also colluded with large construction firms to maintain a secret blacklist of union organizers who were denied employment and had their lives ruined.