Tuesday, February 7, 2012

60 years ago: The surveillance society already exists in Britain

Unlike the U.S.A. and Canada, in the United Kingdom and many other countries, one is required to pay a fee for a license in order to own a television set. In the U.K., the fee is used to subsidize the British Broadcasting Corporation. However, as might be expected, there have always been people who've attempted to obtain television sets without paying the fee for a license. On February 1, 1952, a "television detector" was unveiled in London. As reported by BBC News:

A new method for tracking down users of unlicensed television sets has been unveiled in the UK. The first TV detector van was demonstrated in front of Postmaster-General, Lord De La Warr and Assistant Postmaster-General Mr Gammans...

...The units consist of three horizontal loop aerials fixed to the roof of a van which receives signals from TV sets and converts them to radio waves to give audio and video information.

Its inventors insist the system is sensitive enough to pick up the vast majority of television receivers, whether the aerial is external or internal.

Detector vans will pass slowly along roads and will be able to pin-point where receivers are in use. TV detection officers will make doorstep inquiries as they go along.

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