Friday, February 13, 2009

DC crime cameras don't stop crime?

Who knew?

This is a pretty long article, but go get yourself a cup of coffee and read it. It's worth your time. These cameras may not be as Big Brother as you would think, but they're still an invasion of privacy that are not effective at their assigned task: catching criminals.

A taste:

In warning Congress that cameras are “readymade for abuse,” the ACLU’s Johnny Barnes read an excerpt from a New York Times Magazine article on the surveillance boom.

Reporter Jeffrey Rosen spent some time with the fellows who watch CCTV feeds in London:

“[W]hen you put a group of bored, unsupervised men in front of live video screens and allow them to zoom in on whatever happens to catch their eyes,” Rosen wrote, “they tend to spend a fair amount of time leering at women.”

The blokes in the control room zoomed in on big boobs and teenagers necking in cars.

Hard to imagine it doesn’t happen here, though ever since the Wall Street Journal blew up its surveillance network, the department has not been foolish enough to allow a reporter to hang out in a control room with the people watching the feeds, despite requests.

The video footage may be erased after 10 days, but the door for nefarious use is open wide. And just because a citizen hasn't made a case yet doesn't mean that abuse hasn't happened.

This piece of the article carries the most weight:
A common lament of the civil liberties crowd used to be that the constant and increasing presence of surveillance cameras would acculturate modern society to an omnipresent government eyeball, and that we would miss something we didn’t understand until after we’d lost it: privacy.
Americans have already lost that. This is just the nail in the coffin.

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