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Weird new job: Stay-at-home rent-a-cop
A company is paying people to catch British shoplifters by watching security camera feeds. Is that creepy?
 
Vigilant layabouts can earn up to $1,600 per month watching surveillance tapes from their couch.
Vigilant layabouts can earn up to $1,600 per month watching surveillance tapes from their couch.
Corbis

A British company called Internet Eyes has a novel business plan: Pay people at home to catch shoplifters by watching live in-store surveillance feeds. Internet Eyes says more than 13,500 people have signed up across Europe for its three-month pilot program, in which sharp-eyed homebodies can earn up to $1,600 a month by text messaging when they spot a thief at work. Is this a brilliant crowd-sourcing of crime prevention, or a creepy dip into "Big Brother" territory?

Goodbye, privacy: This "Stasi-style citizen spy game" is not only an expansion of "Britain’s surveillance society," says Charles Farrier in Disinformation, it is an ineffective one, and probably illegal to boot. There are CCTVs all over Britain, and they don't deter crime. Worse, this "ludicrous gimmick" shifts the balance between privacy and technology toward tech, and somehow "privacy never gets to regain lost ground."
"Internet Eyes citizen spy game — The new Stasi?"

Who cares who's watching? "I don't have an issue with this from a privacy standpoint," says Matthew Humphries at Geek.com. Somebody will be watching the feed, and if it is couch potatoes willing to pay a $20 subscription fee for the privilege, "I say go for it." If this manages to cut crime — and why shouldn't it — "I am sure Internet Eyes will expand its operations."
"Internet Eyes will pay you to watch security camera feeds"

This is the next logical leap in reality TV: Internet Eyes certainly "seems like a way to aid in crime-fighting," says Matt Clark at Gather. But "the questions raised by opponents are good ones," and Britain has to keep close tabs on it to make sure it doesn't become "too 'Big Brother.'" In the meantime, let's marvel at the "interesting new turn" in the blurring between reality and reality TV.
"Catch a thief from your armchair and win cash"

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