Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Big Brother May Be Watching ... So What?

New York City is going to take a page out of London's anti-terror play book and start installing thousands of cameras in the down-town financial district. These security cameras will be monitoring the streets and outsides of buildings and can be accessed to look at a situation that happened or monitored in real time if there is fore-knowledge of something that may happen.

Of course the ACLU is already calling it an invasion of privacy and would like nothing better than to get the project scrapped.

Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't see where the privacy issue comes into play. When I go into a public street ... I don't expect my actions to be private. When I am sitting at home, then sure, I expect ... no, demand my privacy, but out on the street ... of course not. Isn't that why it is called going out in "public"?

The only people I can see that would be opposed to the cameras are criminals and terrorists that do not want people seeing what they are doing. I'm sorry to all the people who would feel uncomfortable buying their drugs and soliciting prostitutes while the cameras are watching, but the safety of the public trumps your unease.

If I am missing something, please let me know.

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22 comments:

Sarah said...

I agree that when in public your actions are simply not private.

My concern with cameras is who is watching and how can they be accessed. Will this be like most things where local authorities who need to see them have a ton of red tape to go through to get them but then any criminal or 15 year old hacker can get them easily.

I suppose I want more than just cameras but also a system which makes them worth while. If not I would prefer no cameras than those in the wrong hands.

Lawyer Mama said...

Well, I can see where the ACLU is coming from. I think it's kind of a slippery slope sort of thing. But, they're probably in serious denial about what's already out there watching public and private space - ATM cameras that reach the sidewalk; surveillance cameras on private property that cover public spaces; traffic cameras; etc.... And I can see Sarah's point with the question of who has access.

I know there are similar surveillance cameras in DC & I don't remember there ever being a problem.

Thanks for your comment on my guest blog. I think you're my new best friend!

Ms.L said...

We have cameras in my wee little town because, a group of jackasses like to wreck stuff and harrass citizens. As far as I know it's working to stop these activities.
Imagine the wonders the cameras could work in a bigger city!

Mama en Fuego said...

One cannot expect privacy on a public street. While I agree that only those looking to engage in illegal activities should be concerned I can also see the potential for misuse.

Another blogger, Los from Plethora once shed some light on a situation that was happening in Philly in which the ez-pass cards for toll booths were being used to issue speeding tickets to their owners. Having timed the distance at speed limit between stations the city issued tickets to those who arrived at the next station at below recorded time. Though a minor invasion it is still an invasion and rather assumptive if you ask me.

However, I think that the situation in New York is one of more pressing concern in that New York has already proven to be a target for terrorist activity and will likely be a target again.

If the cameras are only being used to track known suspects or to retrace a crime that has already taken place, I don't see a problem. It's when we get into the idea of surmising what someone's intentions are based on their race, sex, or nationality that I start getting twitchy. I would guess that this is what the ACLU is concerned about as well.

All in all I think it's a great idea given the proper security.

Paul Champagne said...

sarah ... and if the 15 yr old hacker does get access to the feed from the camera ... how does that affect you or me? Now if those cameras deter a mugger or purse snatcher ....

lawyer mama ... You're right, there are plenty of cameras out there already ... but also plenty of blind spots. Sometimes I think the ACLU is all about protecting the criminals (I lie ... I almost always think that way).

ms.l ... glad that the cameras seem to have detered the little heathans. I do believe they will work wonders in the Big City.

mama ... I think it is a great idea too. In London, the cameras were instrumental in rounding up the little terrorist cell they had there, and I'm sure they have helped solve many a crime. On another note ... When I was stationed in West Germany and had to drive accross "the corridor" between W. Germany and Berlin, if you were faster than 4 hours getting between checkpoints you got a ticket ... no camera needed.

In_spired said...

I say "Bring 'em on"!! Heck...I'm being watched with almost every click I make on this computer...maybe not by a physical image but certainly the activity that is performed.(IF anyone is inclined to know anything about me! Lord, I hope there's not an image of me as I stagger in every morning!!!) And this is in the PRIVACY of my home! What more invasion could a camera on a public street be?

Paul Champagne said...

inspired ... my feelings exactly, bring it on.

evalinn said...

Absolutely, I agree!

Blancodeviosa said...

Yeah I don't see the big deal. If you want privacy, go in your own damn house

Paul Champagne said...

evalinn ... of course you agree with me ... you're a smart girl.

blanco ... absolutely, its off to our homes we go.

The Lowest Rated Blog said...

Go4it, those cameras in London are producing good results !!! I WANT some cameras pointing at my home in California, I want to see the neighborhood's egg thrower smiling on candid camera !!!

tlrb

David said...

Working in a relatively new prison there are cameras nearly everywhere. I love it! It cuts down on problems within the school. When I am principal, if my office doesn't have a camera, I am installing one, even if I have to pay for it myself!

I think since the ACLU is made of a bunch of crooks they must feel paranoid.

evalinn said...

Congrats on your new medal, see my blog!

buffalodickdy said...

Privacy in the 21st century is a myth. I miss privacy....

Mike M said...

Washington has had these for some time now and NY will win against the ACLU in court if it goes. NY WILL get these cameras.

Paul Champagne said...

tlrb ... I hadn't even thought about the effect of cameras on mischief-makers, graffitti artists and vandals. How about putting a box on our tax forms that we can check off to send $3.00 of our taxes to pay for cameras?

david ... When I'm at work, I don't mind cameras at all. I figure they are more for my protection than anything else.

evalinn ... thanks, you didn't have to give me a medal because I said you were a smart girl ... but I'll take it anyway.

buffalo ... you may be right ... but then again, how much privacy did Samantha and Darrin Stevens have with Mrs Kravitz living next door ... blast from the past.

mike ... NYC has already set up cameras in an area of Brooklyn ... results aren't in yet on that little experiment, but I'm pretty sure crime will go down.

Jenny! said...

I don't have a problem with the cameras being in the public spaces, but agree that NO fucking way in my house! If I want to have sex on the street...then I better be prepared for it to be watched...by cameras and other people out...thats how public works!

Paul Champagne said...

jenny ... sex on the street? ... sounds hott.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

I could not agree more ...

as usual...you are right on!

I say.. bring on the cameras!!

Have I told you that I love your blog?

Paul Champagne said...

terri ... I feel the luv

Slut said...

I don't really worry about it. I do find it noxious to think someone is watching my every move.

But it seems to me that in ancient times (or not so ancient times) when most people lived in a relatively small town, you couldn't get away with much then. Everybody knew each other, so if you did something that was against the local laws you would certainly get caught. I'm not sure anyone is entitled to expect perfect anonymity, especially if they have intent to commit a crime.

Moreover, and this, to me, is the larger mitigating factor - if they have cameras running 24/7, no one is going to be screening millions of miles of footage. It's only going to be used selectively, to look for evidence in a crime case. How is this substantially different from looking for witnesses?

No doubt crooked police could doctor a tape with you in it or something. Those same crooked police have been known to manufacture other evidence and witnesses.

Paul Champagne said...

slut ... the doctoring of tape, unless done by a skilled professional (which if they were ... they wouldn't be cops), is easy to spot.

I have also found that the reason that bad cops plant evidence is because they are unable to find the real perpetrator ... and the guy they are framing probably is guilty of other things anyway. With the cameras, the cops can catch the real culprit.

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