As long as everyone is spying on everyone else, society is bound to tick along nicely. At least that's what the Devon authorities are clearly hoping, seeing that they've backed plans for a private company to employ amateur voyeurs on the internet to tap into CCTV streams, monitor the people of Devon and report suspicious behaviour.
The lizards behind this, Internet Eyes, have pledged to pay regular subscribers up to £1,000 for reporting spotted criminals – from tweens shoplifting Nuts and energy drinks, to groups of militarised Islamisists herding hundreds of shoppers into Aldi in preparation for a Mumbai-style mass execution. Of course if, as is likely, your average volunteer peeper never actually witnesses any crime or decodes any terrorist plots, all they'll be doing is watching the people of Devon shop. A hobby which would be unnerving if it didn't sound so dull.
The reptilian mastermind of this cripto-fascist PLC (managing director of Internet Eyes) Tony Morgan said: "The subscribers will have access to four screens at the same time and if they see anything suspicious, they can press the 'alert' button. This then sends an instant text and picture message to the shop assistant or manager - who then makes the decision about what action to take."
The whole thing stinks of reality TV, only instead of watching sexually immature hotties row about their daily porridge allowance, you're watching people buying lottery tickets hoping that they slip that Twix into their pocket so you can leap on your Bat-phone, report them, then kick back and watch as they're assaulted by security staff, content in the knowledge that you've done your civic duty for a sweet sweet profit. Admittedly it's a step up from that other voguish meme: encouraging strangers to gas themselves with household bleaches on suicide chat rooms, but I'm not sure Internet Eyes represents progression. Anyway, I'm going to join and let you know what crimes I solve.