Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is Big Brother headed to the backcountry?

Kurt Repanshek at the National Parks Traveler has an excellent article over at his site concerning the prying eyes of big brother.

It seems that Yellowstone National Park has recently adopted a comprehensive plan regarding the use of technology in the park that could open the door to the use of web cams in the backcountry. It should be noted that the National Park Service has not approved the use of cameras as of yet.

Mr. Repanshek looked into the plan and posted this piece of information from the document:

Existing webcams within developed areas could be upgraded to wireless, or new wireless webcams could be installed in developed areas of the park if they are found to meet the siting criteria adopted by this FONSI. No wireless webcams for visitor use will be installed within backcountry areas of the park. It is possible that wireless monitoring cameras could be placed in backcountry areas for resource monitoring or to address safety concerns, but these will not be available for public viewing purposes.

Mr. Repanshek brings up several provocative questions and issues regarding the plan. You can read his full commentary, and find a link to the Yellowstone Wireless Communications Services Plan by clicking here.

How likely is this to become a reality across the national park system?

Take a look at the article written by Dave Pidgeon at Compass Points, a blog on outdoor travel. Compass Points is the originator of this discussion, and this article is a follow-up to the National Parks Traveler article. Mr. Pidgeon points out:

But this discussion is inevitable, especially with the coming Feb. 22 introduction of a new law to allow loaded firearms in national parks.

First, the moment one of those rangers or a backpacker or a horse rider becomes a victim of a crime committed by someone wielding a gun, and that crime either could have or was captured by a camera, I predict there will be an outcry for greater safety measures. This is the stuff of which lawsuits are made. If the National Park Service has the capabilities of implementing safety measures to deter such crime or in the event of such crime can be used as evidence for the purpose of justice, then you can bet lawyers will get involved.

Both Kurt and Dave agree that this is potentially a slippery slope, which would ultimately be bad for backcountry users. I totally agree with them and will state further that government (big brother) cannot and will never be able to protect us from anything or everything that could possibly go wrong, whether it be in the wilderness or on a city street. Where does it end? Are we going to allow governments to put cameras in our homes? After all, how would authorities know if there isn't child or spousal abuse going on within your home?

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.


Smokey said...

Here is where I hike often

Anonymous said...

I backpack in the high country to get away from people with gadgits. Just go to any campground.