back to

e-flux conversations

Are the Watchers Always Watching?: Interview with an Anonymous Security Operator


The summer issue of Logic magazine includes a fascinating interview with an anonymous security officer who has worked at high levels in multiple tech and manufacturing companies. He pulls back the veil on the oft mystified world of corporate security, showing how simultaneously banal and draconian it can be. Among other things, he says that security cameras are almost never actively monitored, and corporate badges are a marvelous tool for employee surveillance. Check out an excerpt from the interview below.

Beyond answering phones I assume you’re also monitoring security cameras. How much of the job is that?

People always assume someone is watching a camera at all times. I can 100 percent say no one is watching a camera at any time. We might have some up for peripherally keeping an eye on trouble spots. For the most part, though, the cameras are recording at all times, but no one is ever watching them.

Once you get past a certain number of cameras, you are past the point where it makes any sense for someone to be watching all of them; it’s 100 percent looking back retroactively and seeing what exactly happened.

On average, at my current manufacturing company, I do maybe three to four of those investigations a day. And the previous tech companies I worked at, it was maybe three to four a week depending on the scenario. It was kind of feast or famine with tech. With manufacturing, they care a lot more, because they’re keeping an eye on when people screw up, when things break, or when damage is done — because every penny counts.

Image via American Banker.