It does look that way.
Are Olympics a Trojan horse for Big Brother? - Red Tape
When the Olympic flame is doused on Sunday, we know the cheers will quiet, the athletes will move on and fans will go home. But will Big Brother stay behind?
Every Olympics host city goes through it: the Olympic hangover. When the athletes step off the medal podiums, the city must clean up, pay the bills and figure out how to monetize a series of shiny new venues. The most important decision, however, might seem much more subtle: What happens to all those new security cameras and other surveillance technologies that were installed for the Games? Privacy experts fret that, as with Athens, Beijing and Vancouver, the Olympics means a steep ratcheting up of security that never really gets ratcheted down.
"It would be a tragedy if the most visible legacy of the Games in London was a huge increase in the amount of surveillance people are subjected to in their everyday lives," said Nick Pickles, director of London-based Big Brother Watch.
Host cities tolerate massive shows of security that would otherwise be unimaginable. In London, which already has more CCTV security cameras than any other city in the world, 2,000 new cameras were installed in the Olympic Village, while nearly 2,000 more were installed around the city, according to Big Brother Watch. License plate recognition systems have been installed throughout London. There are even surface-to-air missiles atop apartment buildings and more military troops on the ground than Britain has in Afghanistan. An $877 million effort, it's been called the largest peacetime deployment of security forces in history, but the question remains: Will there be mission creep? How much of that infrastructure and the publicís newfound tolerance for being watched will remain after the Games are finished?
Earlier this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published an analysis of all recent Games and says the results are disheartening. It should come as no surprise that the Beijing Summer Games were used as an excuse to install thousands of cameras that are still in operation, said the reportís author, Rebecca Bowe. But other cities have suffered similar fates, too.
"The Games bring a legacy that lives well beyond the prestige," Bowe said. "We've witnessed time and again, the security infrastructure lives on well beyond the Games."
The concerns aren't merely theoretical. Athens officials installed about 1,000 cameras for the 2004 Summer Games. In 2007, Greece amended its national data protection law to exempt the cameras; Greek privacy commissioner Dimitris Gourgourakis resigned over the incident. The cameras have since been used during protests following economic unrest there.