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Surveillance Cameras in Britain Not Effective? 434

Posted by michael
from the security-blanket dept.
zymurgy_cat writes "An interesting piece in The Christian Science Monitor questions whether or not the 4 million plus cameras in Britain are effective in deterring crime. It touches upon the usual issues of privacy, who has access to the tapes, and so forth. Despite this, people still seem to prefer the cameras."
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Surveillance Cameras in Britain Not Effective?

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  • by October_30th (531777) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:23AM (#8211061) Homepage Journal
    Why the emphasis on deterrence?

    Surveillance cameras are essential in solving crimes.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:35AM (#8211098)
      Isn't one of the main reasons to solve crimes to deter future crime? Isn't that the idea behind a criminal justice system?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:19AM (#8211256)
        Isn't one of the main reasons to solve crimes to deter future crime? Isn't that the idea behind a criminal justice system?
        Sort of, but not really. The primary reason to solve crimes isn't deterrence, it's to catch and punish the people responsible for committing the crimes. I suppose that, in its own way, this process does help to deter some crime; but don't be fooled, we don't do it as a deterrent. We do it as revenge, we do it so that the family of a rape victim can rest easy at night knowing that the asshole responsible is rotting away in a prison cell somewhere.

        The idea of deterrence does factor heavily into criminal justice, but more as an answer to the question, "how can we prevent crimes from taking place?" In the justice system, deterrence is usually interpreted as the "fear factor" caused by the potential punishment for committing a crime. If you're convicted of first-degree murder, you're looking at life in prison or a death sentence. That fact, in and of itself, is supposed to be the "deterrent."

        Most people don't commit murder. It's not because there's nobody they'd like to kill; pretty much everyone has at least one enemy they'd love to see removed from society. The reason most people don't commit murder is because they realize the penalty for doing so. That's deterrence.

        With surveillance cameras, the idea is that the presence of the camera (and thus the knowledge that if a crime is committed, it's likely to be caught on tape) is supposed to be a deterrent. This week, in Florida, we saw a good example of the fact that surveillance cameras don't deter every crime. This is a given, though, as a best-case sentence of life in prison doesn't stop some people from killing others.

        IANALEA, but I did take some CJUS classes in college...
        • by binarybum (468664) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:19PM (#8211779) Homepage
          it's to catch and punish the people responsible for committing the crimes. I suppose that, in its own way, this process does help to deter some crime; but don't be fooled, we don't do it as a deterrent. We do it as revenge, we do it so that the family of a rape victim can rest easy at night knowing that the asshole responsible is rotting away in a prison cell somewhere.

          No that is not why we do it. Despite our attempts to appear sympathetic, we don't really give a damn about the family of a rape victim we don't know, and we probably don't know the story very well -- perhaps the rapist was wrongly accussed. What we care quite a lot about is ourselves and our own families, and we would like to think that punishing someone guilty of assualting another will deter that person and hopefully others from doing something similar to us or our families.

          Herein lies the scary part of justice. The masses want a symbol of deterrance, a hangman, and are often willing to settle for "close enough" rather than proven guilty with hard evidence. Our legal system may be built to attempt to minimize mistakes, but it begs the question of whether the sacrafice of one innocent may be utilitarian in acting as a detterant for 100s of would be offenders.
          • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:36PM (#8212243) Journal
            The masses want a symbol of deterrance, a hangman, and are often willing to settle for "close enough" rather than proven guilty with hard evidence.

            This is precisely how we are dealing with the 9/11 disaster.

            Our legal system may be built to attempt to minimize mistakes, but it begs the question of whether the sacrafice of one innocent may be utilitarian in acting as a detterant for 100s of would be offenders.

            More often than not it breeds contempt for the system. And rightly so. It seems that more and more often we are reading about wrongly accused people being released from from prison after anywhere between 10 and 40 years of incarceration. We should never ever tolerate this.
        • by thrillseeker (518224) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:24PM (#8211800)
          The reason most people don't commit murder is because they realize the penalty for doing so.

          If the people of a society act only because of a fear of getting caught then that society is lost, as people will always find ways around the law, and privelege will become the deciding factor on who must follow the law and who need not. Only within a society of which the people believe in moral principles ("morailty is what you do when no one is watching") will advance.

          Creating "bad" laws - that is laws which the majority do not desire to follow and appear to only serve as a source of revenue - only cheapens the "good" laws - those that advance the freedom of people.

        • ... We do it as revenge, we do it so that the family of a rape victim can rest easy at night knowing that the asshole responsible is rotting away in a prison cell somewhere.

          I disagree, we don't put a rapist in a prison cell for revenge, or to comfort the victim, any more than we do it to deter other rapists. The main reason why we put people like that in prison is to make sure they don't harm society like that again. Maybe it feels like personal revenge to them, because they are in a shitty situation.

    • hyperbole alert! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lxs (131946)
      Surveillance cameras are essential in solving crimes.


      Surveillance cameras may be helpful in solving crimes, but they are hardly essential. Or do you seriously suggest that before the introduction of CCTV no crimes were solved?
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:30AM (#8211308) Journal
        The case of the two kids who murdered a todller is prove of a crime that would have not be solved with out cctv. Was this case unique as many people claimed or extremely common? Perhaps all unsolved crimes of these nature were committed by people we would normally never suspect. You and I don't know. The camera in this case did.

        It is like saying because crimes were solved before DNA it is now not an essential tool for the justice system.

        In fact these new technologies are becoming more essential as we are less willing to convict people because they are the wrong color. Sure we could just fry the closest black to a rape or murder again but I prefer that we use DNA profiling and CCTV to catch the real criminals.

  • Why all the concern? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gilesx (525831) * <gil@RASPforesightlinux.com minus berry> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:23AM (#8211062) Homepage
    If I'd just committed a double murder, or cleaned out a jeweller's in the heist of the century, then I might actually be worried about cameras monitoring my every move.

    As it is, I lead a life that is infinitely more boring than the scenarios listed above, and I am therefore of the opinion that if people want to watch me walking to the store at 10pm to grab a bottle of milk, they are more than welcome. Why should I care who's watching me if I have nothing to hide? And aren't cameras just an extension of any authority watching me? What's next? Policeman on the streets shouldn't look at the public as it is an infringement of civil liberties?
    • by Lurker McLurker (730170) <allthecoolnameshavegone&gmail,com> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:32AM (#8211089)
      Oh, no. Not the "I have nothing to hide" argument.The idea that only criminlas need be concerned about this sort of thing is dangerously complacent. We all need to ask whether or not giving up some of our privacy is worth it. We need to look at the costs and benefits, and the benefits seem to be unclear.
      • by Gilesx (525831) * <gil@RASPforesightlinux.com minus berry> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:37AM (#8211104) Homepage

        It's actually the "why do I give a shit?" argument. I used to live in a town of 6000 and they had 3 cameras up along the high street there. I walked down that street maybe 8 times a week for 3 years, and didn't have my life impacted one iota by the cameras present. In fact, the first week after they were constructed, I'd forgotten they were even there.

        You tell me I lost privacy there - surely I also lose privacy on any street in the world I walk down that has anybody else walking down it at the same time. The whole point of public is that it is open to all. I'm also sure I don't need to remind you that public is the opposite of private.

        • by MrRTFM (740877) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:15AM (#8211245) Journal
          I walked down that street maybe 8 times a week for 3 years, and didn't have my life impacted one iota by the cameras present.

          Not yet you didnt - now I am just being hypothecial here...

          1. 12 photos of you picking your nose are posted to a website

          2. 5 photos and one 14 second video posted of you scratching your ass

          3. Evidence that you left work early 30 minutes on the 15th of May 2005 to go and pick up some dry cleaning - why you didnt record this on your timesheet?

          4. Who was that woman you were talking to on the 18th of November. This isnt a criminal matter of course, but your wife is now interested.

          5. You spent 45 minutes in a competitors shop, and walked out with 2 shopping bags - nothing criminal here, but how does this look to your boss?

          I could go on, but basically there *are* issues with 24/7 camera monitoring which affect peoples privacy. I certainly see the benefits of them (catching the kidnappers/murderers/rapists), but I dont think you should say "I didn't do anything wrong so I've got nothing to hide" - people are basically petty, and can often use the stupidest things against you.

          • come off it! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by FireBook (593941)
            1. There is not enough organisation between the people monitoring the cctvs and anyone who may or may not be interested in the content of the feeds for there to be any real risk of you being busted doing anything you, for what ever reason, shouldnt be.

            2. Its a bit more than petty to bother to grab and post images and footage of people for no real reason, besides which the person who lifted the images/footage from the source are no doubt not permitted to do so in their terms of employment, in addition iirc
          • by bobbis.u (703273)
            I can't believe the arrogance in assuming that anyone else actually cares what you do all day. There are about 58 million people in the UK. Everyday most people get up, walk down the street, and perhaps even pick their nose (shock horror!). Now, when you see someone picking their nose, do you quickly pull out a camera and take a photo to blackmail them with? Do you follow them home and tell their family? If you are normal, you don't do these things. You probably don't take any notice or do anything about it
        • by no longer myself (741142) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:17AM (#8211253)
          Why don't you give a shit? If someone walked up to you and asked you if they could take your picture, you'd probably get extremely camera shy, ask them why, and probably deny their request.

          Don't bother replying telling me how you wouldn't have a problem with this. I've actually walked up to strangers in public downtown Dayton for the express purpose of testing my theory. Out of 15 people I got 15 disturbed reactions, and 15 requests denied. I was also twice approached for questioning as to why I was disturbing people by requesting to take their photograph. After the second time I decided it best not to continue my experiment lest I end up being assaulted or thrown in jail.

          The pitch line was that I was a photography student, and I needed a person with a downtown neighborhood backdrop for an assignment. It sounded quite plausable, and no one contested my intent once I explained as such. I never really took any photos, as the experiment was to simply test a theory.

          What I don't understand is why people don't want their picture taken when the intent to show the beautiful side of humanity, but they don't really care when they are being video taped with the intent to capture their ugliest moments.

          Oh, and the cherry on top? They were all being watched by an obvious nearby surveilance camera when they declined my request.

      • by eggstasy (458692) <jorge.manuel @ g m a i l . c om> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:43AM (#8211129) Journal
        Widespread surveillance can also be used to prove your innocence. If you are unfairly accused of a crime, it would come in real handy if the police can pull up a video of wherever you were at the time.
        I, for one, couldn't care less if people film me, have nothing to hide, and nothing to fear. You can put cameras in all the rooms of my house and watch me 24/7, if it turns you on. I barely leave the computer anyway, but I might put on a show just for you :P
      • What privacy do I give up when a camera is mounted in a public place? I figure, if I'm someplace where a cop has every right to walk by and scope out what I'm doing (e.g. a public street or a crowded shopping mall) I should have no expectation of my actions being private.

    • by kfg (145172) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:37AM (#8211102)
      This works reasonably well enough up until the time walking to the store at 10 P.M. is considered probable cause, or even criminal.

      But by then it's too late to turn back.

      KFG
    • by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:37AM (#8211106)
      Why should I care who's watching me if I have nothing to hide? And aren't cameras just an extension of any authority watching me? What's next? Policeman on the streets shouldn't look at the public as it is an infringement of civil liberties?

      No, what's next is mandatory DNA sampling and fingerprinting upon demand of law enforcement for whatever reason (whether you're under arrest or not). Actually hell, the U.K. may already have that. I forgot you don't have a written Constitution that prevents such invasions of privacy and self-incrimination. I guess you don't mind if the police just casually look around your flat everytime they're in the neighborhood just to make sure you're not doing anything wrong. Afterall, you have nothing to hide. Where does it stop? Before you say America is turning into the same thing, yes, and we're bitching about it here just as much. The AmeriNazi government under Shrub is destroying our rights without constitutional authority.

      • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:47AM (#8211144) Homepage
        Manditory DNA testing is invasive. You own your body cells, so even if its just discarded material found on your tooth brush or fingernail clippings, its invasive.

        Fingerprinting requires that you be detained -- in effect under arrest. Without a crime, it is considered in most of the world false imprisonment (if not legally, morally).

        So, self-incrimination??? I don't get it. If you cut yourself while axing someone, do you get to complain that the blood found is self-incriminating. Bullshit.

        Survlance in a public street is and should be legitimate. The minute they start pointing their cameras into my home -- using infrared or other privacy invading technologies, I might get upset. The fact that someone can see you as you walk down the streets is fine with me. I get annoyed when cops follow me -- that is a threatening physical form of intimidation, but cameras? Either you are an idiot or a criminal, or a combination of both if you think this effects you in any way.

        Having said that, I still enjoy f'ing with these things with my laser pointer :-) Along the same lines, if its in the street, I shouldn't be allowed to get arrested for pointing a light at something. Civil liberties goes both ways...
        • by Hrothgar The Great (36761) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:02AM (#8211192) Journal
          I agree with your response to the other post, but then you say this:

          Either you are an idiot or a criminal, or a combination of both if you think this effects you in any way.

          Is objectivity a thing of the past? Are you OK with not considering the arguments of your opposition in any way whatsoever?

          Relying on the trustworthiness of surveillance in public places means relying on the trustworthiness of "the government". This would be a fairly easy decision to make if the government was, say, one or two guys. You'd look at the guys, what they've said, how they've behaved, and you'd either trust them or you wouldn't. The government, however, is made up of thousands of people, all of whom now have access to some pretty personal information about you.

          What personal information? Well, if there's a camera on every public street, you can pretty easily be tracked at every location you go to. Tuesday 6:15 - you go to the grocery store. 6:45 - you go out to dinner. At the same restaurant you usually frequent. 7:30 - you hit your favorite local bar (you appear to be an alcoholic). 1:15 A.M. - head home. You appear to walk through a dark alley to get from your car to your apartment.

          Do you want hundreds or thousands of people to know your exact routine? Doesn't that freak you out AT ALL? Like I said, you don't have to be an idiot to think this is a bad situation - all you have to believe is that the government employs a percentage of sociopaths who would misuse this information that is comparable to the general populace.
        • by I Be Hatin' (718758) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:33AM (#8211327) Journal
          Manditory DNA testing is invasive. You own your body cells, so even if its just discarded material found on your tooth brush or fingernail clippings, its invasive.

          You're going to claim absolute ownership of all of your discarded skin cells, hair cells, etc. for all of the years of your life? Give me a break... But in any case, manditory DNA testing is no more invasive than manditory fingerprinting.

          Fingerprinting requires that you be detained -- in effect under arrest. Without a crime, it is considered in most of the world false imprisonment (if not legally, morally).

          Fingerprinting no longer (in the US) requires that you be under arrest. Non-US citizens who enter the country (at least on some flights) will be photographed and fingerprinted... without being arrested or even accused of any crime. It's only a matter of time before this gets applied to all people entering the country, and eventually to everyone (on demand).

          I get annoyed when cops follow me -- that is a threatening physical form of intimidation, but cameras?

          In my opinion, there are two problems with being followed by cops. First, as you said, it is a threatening physical form of intimidation. However, perhaps even more importantly, you most likely haven't done anything wrong. The cop is simply following you while he performs a license plate check, and/or hoping that you will do something wrong so he can pull you over. And why is he following you? It could be something as simple as having an out-of-state license plate, or weaving a little bit, or being the "wrong"/"right" color/gender. This focused attention for trivial reasons can be abused.

          Either you are an idiot or a criminal, or a combination of both if you think this effects you in any way.

          You are naive if you think that this can't affect you. You complain about cops following you, but if they have cameras installed everywhere, the cops can be tracking you on a continual basis. And as above, this can be for trivial or circumstantial reasons: perhaps your brother is linked to drug dealers who have just been raided, or your girlfriend's brother's friend gave money to an islamic charity that turned out to be a front for a "terrorist" organization, or you're a woman and some creep who has access to the surveillance cameras decides to stalk you... The main point is that this much power to track people will be abused.

        • Survlance in a public street is and should be legitimate. The minute they start pointing their cameras into my home -- using infrared or other privacy invading technologies, I might get upset.

          It'll be too late to "get upset" by then. Give 'em an inch, and they'll take a yard. The overwhelming force of conformity will move the baseline of what is tolerable and what is not. Like most social forces, a moving baseline happens to be quite invisible. By the time the baseline has moved, and if you haven't co

      • by mindstrm (20013) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:06AM (#8211205)
        Are you implying the US constitution prevents such things? It no longer does, and hasn't for quite some time.

        Patriot act? Drug war? Internment camps? Communist trials? Witch burnings? It goes back forever.

        Those in power manage to convince the people that some violations of the constitution are for their own good, and anyone who speaks out about it is a bad guy.

        You can say "Oh well the supreme court can eventually overturn it.."

        Guess what. In places like Britain, they may do some things you think the constitution would prevent. They can also much more easily STOP doing those things... it's more rational.

      • by 26199 (577806) *
        *cough* Data Protection Act *cough*



        We're actually very well off in the UK when it comes to private information. Companies dealing with America have to have their American counterparts agree to abide by the same rules, otherwise they can't share data.

      • ...which basically spawned all the rights that were formalized in the USA's written one.

        Unfortunately, both constitutions appear to be worth not much more than the paper they're written on. In the UK, the current socialist government is engaged in tearing up the "ancient rights of Englishmen", due to a complete incomprehension of their purpose -- and in the USA... well, PATRIOT act, need I say more.

        Ask the government to protect you: ask the fox to guard the hen house.

        Create a constitution: require the fo
    • by aepervius (535155) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:42AM (#8211127)
      let us put it that way, if you have camera every corner, and with face recognition (and amit for a second it has a good enough sucess rate), how can you then be "gainst" your governement , make an alternate party, make civil protest, or manifest, strike, and do whatever else can be construed as public disturbance ? That is right you cannot anymore.

      And thus even those which have a lawful life but disliked for some reason by the govt can be monitored and the info used against themselves. Do you repsect law but have a mistress or are you homosexual ? well bad luck now camera can see that, and with face recognition signal to an operator he found the position of one of the person on its list, operator which then promptly make anotation of your activity on a memo.

      Is this scenario far eteched ? Well with the price of a CCTV , and the price of computer now, I think the only true obstacle to this scenario is that face recognition isn't that good. But it might be in the future. And as the past leaner, if a govt official can abuse its position , it will. So the above scenario is LIKELY. In such view having nothing to hide [by that I mean being lawful] isn't a protection anymore.
      • And thus even those which have a lawful life but disliked for some reason by the govt can be monitored and the info used against themselves. Do you repsect law but have a mistress or are you homosexual ? well bad luck now camera can see that, and with face recognition signal to an operator he found the position of one of the person on its list, operator which then promptly make anotation of your activity on a memo.

        And when you combine the capabilities of CCTV systems with this [slashdot.org] you've got something REAL
        • ...only be a matter of time before private corporations are given access to 'manage' these systems...

          Exactly. Just like my tax files were being managed by EDS, an effing American Corporation with a piss poor employee reationship record. Not that I care it's a Yankee company - I care that state data on me is being handled by:

          a) A private corporation who don't go through the same level of security vetting that even a minor civil servant does.

          and b) A bunch of foreigners who we might well have a disagre

          • Exactly. Just like my tax files were being managed by EDS, an effing American Corporation with a piss poor employee reationship record. Not that I care it's a Yankee company...

            Rule #1 -- NEVER trust an American company to do the "Right Thing(TM)". Even when they do, it for the wrong reasons.

            Rule #2 -- See Rule #1.

            I an American and I love my country. That doesn't mean I've got to love the corporate mindset.
    • If and as long as you love your government, your police authorities etc., you are right: you should not be worried. Otherwise, you might fear that somebody tracks your writing to, talking to, or meeting the wrong people. The issue is total surveillance; as long as policemen are not a single connected Borg, their presence does not pose the same dangers.

      One additional danger, in particular in countries like the US where criminal juries are primarily composed of non-experts, is that weird coincidences become

    • If you don't have anything to hide, then why do you close the door when you go to the bathroom?

      I don't have anything to hide, but I like my privacy. The streets are public and not private, and are quite open to 'monitoring' by anyone willing to stand there and watch the street. But where does the public space end and private space begin? Waht about a public washroom? Shoudl cameras be installed there? If there were, woudl you use them? What about changing rooms at stores? Would you still shop at a store th
    • by Andrew Cady (115471) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:44AM (#8211380)
      Well, not everyone leads a boring life, and not every interesting life is criminal. For example, political activists are already closely monitored by the US government in legal and illegal ways. As a recent real-world example, I live in Connecticut and as you may have heard, we are having some problems with our governor accepting bribes, kickbacks, etc. Recently there was an open meeting of citizens seeking to hasten his removal from office, and a uniformed police officer showed up, gave his card to some activists whom he addressed by name (people who had certainly never met him), and generally spoke as much as possible, in an attempt to disrupt the meeting. Naturally, he was just trying to scare people by proving to them that they are being watched. But there is good reason for that to be scary, and it is likely that this information is being gathered for purposes beyond small-time intimidation tactics.

      When the government knows what you're doing, even when it's legal, it can treat you differently for doing it, even when it's legal. This may take the form of petty harrassment, selective enforcement of commonly ignored laws, or something even more ominous. Obviously, you're right, we can't practically prevent the government from knowing about a certain amount of legal activity -- but we should not openly invite them to monitor all legal activity. Maybe that 10pm walk is to a political meeting; maybe it's to your gay lover's apartment; maybe it's to an AA meeting -- but if you're not breaking the law, it's none of the government's business.
    • practical applications of surveilance: You log onto the websites you read in the morning. This info is captured by your ISP. you then stop by the gas station, using your easy pass to fill up your car. this info is captured by the gas station database. Then, using your fastlane, you get on the highway and drive 2 exits. This is logged in the speedpass database. You get to work, login to the network and begin working. Your time of arrival and time you actually spend working are logged. as well as what you typ
    • by orthogonal (588627) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @11:30AM (#8211539) Journal
      Why should I care who's watching me if I have nothing to hide?

      You have nothing to hide! And you have no reason to fear your benevolent government! Because America is the land of the free and so IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE!

      • Unless you are a Peace Democrat in american in 1862, when President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and had some 13,000 northern, non-rebel Americans arrested by the military for criticizing his war policies.

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you are a union member in 1919, and Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer decides to arrest you for being a "Red".

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you were Joseph Yenowsky, sentenced in 1920 to six months in jail merely for saying that Lenin was "the most brainiest man" in the world.

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you are a Japanese-American living in California in 1942, forced to leave your home for an internment camp.

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you are the actor Charlie Chaplin, whom J. Edgar Hoover made sure would not be re-admitted to the United States after trip abroad in 1952, because of allegations of Communist sympathies.

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you are Martin Luther King, described in 1963 as "the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation," who from 1963 to his death in 1968, was spied on under the auspices of the FBI's COINTELPRO program.

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you're gay bartender Michael Hardwick, targeted by a police officer with a grudge and arrested for having consensual oral sex with another man in 1982

        But it can't happen here!
      • Unless you're Canadian citizen Maher Arar in 2002, who, passing through a US airport, was deported by U.S. authorities to Syria, where he was tortured for 10 and a half months.

        But it can't happen here!

        Oh, I guess it can happen here.

        Maybe whatever you do, whoever you are by ideology, political association, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation isn't illegal now.

        But that could all change tomorrow -- and it can happen here.
  • emancipation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Millbuddah (677912)
    I'm not a big fan of the thought of cameras on street corners watching my actions. In fact, the thought alone gives me the jibblies. However, the recent arrest of the Carlie Brucia kidnapper at least gives some credence to the usefulness of these things. So, if they can be put to good use, I'll deal with the jibblies and pray that the next such kidnapping case doesn't end in such tragedy.
    • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:41AM (#8211121) Homepage
      Does it worry you that there might be a policeman standing at the street corner watching you? If not, why not? If it does, why?


      Personally I think that people like Barry Hugill of the organisation "Liberty", who say things like "CCTV is spying. It's monitoring your every move" should be locked up in mental hospitals and have their severe paranoia treated. If someone wants to watch me walking down the street with my shopping, scratching my arse and picking my nose, then that's entirely fine by me, although I would suggest they find a more productive use of their time. I tend to avoid doing illegal things in public, because anyone could be watching, not necessarily over CCTV.

      • Does it worry me? Fuck no. I'd PREFER a cop on every street corner watching EVERYONE. Unlike most of the people around here I don't have some sort of paranoid view of cops that says they're all just out to get me. My grandfather was a cop and I've grown up around cops. Believe me, most cops seriously don't give a shit who you are or what you're doing until you commit a crime.
        • I like to think that if someone sees a crime in progress, and calls the cops, it'll be a damn sight quicker to punch up the nearest cameras and start recording than to get an officer to the scene. At the least, the guy watching the monitor can coach the responding officers onto the perps trail, possibly spot the perp dumping evidence, and generally make it easier for the DA to indict.
    • The Brucia case is exactly what came to my mind here. If more cameras would make people think "gee, I'd better not abduct an 11-yr-old from the street because they'll catch me," it sounds pretty good to me.

      The downside is that we get to watch this disturbing footage again and again. Same was true last time I was in England and they were showing a car pulling up to a parking space, time passing, and then the car exploding. I just wanted to turn the TV off...

  • $460 mil Wasted? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by frank249 (100528) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:25AM (#8211067)
    If it is not reducing crime, perhaps it would have been wiser to put more police on the streets?
    • by Uber Banker (655221)
      Well, I think the crux was they deter some crime (some evidence of displacement, some evidence of removal) - those crimes are more thought through, but they don't stop drunken violence (more than 50% of assaults in the UK are committed by drunk people) or crack addicts as these people are less rational. But even if they don't stop many crimes they make it easier to identify the culprit (as pointed out above).
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:39AM (#8211360) Journal
      The research is not yet in one way or another. Note that the only people saying it is ineffective are the people who are opposed to it. Lets explain it in slashdot terms. Would you believe MS saying linux is more expensive? No of course not. Then lets extend this to the real world. You do not believe a pacifist who says that the army is to expensive. A racist who says group X is inferior to group Y and you do not believe a civil liberty groupie that CCTV is ineffective.

      The article mentions one extreme case in wich CCTV solved the case and others here have mentioned more. There have also been several BBC programs wich showed CCTV in action and it looked like it was giving the police a lot of help when used properly, meaning used by cops in direct communication with cops on the beat.

      Als lets face it in a country like england half a billion is peanuts. More is spend on practically any kind of goverment purchase.

      So next time don't use a headline as the basis of your post. Read the article and learn that CCTV is still being tested out as to how it should be used and how effective it is.

  • by Wunderbar! (741010) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:25AM (#8211068) Journal
    they don't prevent crime, you only get to watch it afterwards.
  • I dunno... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Caeda (669118)
    I think maybe an armed group of security gaurds wearing shirts that say "You steal, we shoot" Might be more effective. :D Just picture someone begging for their life over a snickers bar when the little door buzzer goes off...
  • Thank God (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:29AM (#8211079)
    Thank God that I live in America, where we don't have Big Brother looking over our shoulders constantly.

    I've written a poem about it -

    And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free,
    And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
    And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
    'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

    waves the red, white, and blue
    • Re:Thank God (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gordonjcp (186804)
      Well, you *do* have "Big Brother" looking over your shoulder, all the time. Or perhaps you don't have policemen on the streets where you live?
  • At A Glance (Score:3, Funny)

    by Matrix2110 (190829) * on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:30AM (#8211083) Journal
    Cameras do not deter Crime.

    They only drive it underground.

    I suggest you check out last years episodes of CSI for example.

  • by poszi (698272) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:33AM (#8211093)
    Does anybody expect privacy in public places? You can be watched and photographed by anybody legally in public. Does this surveillance cameras change anything?
    • Surveillance changes things because it is often less visible (some places cameras with significant zoom capability is placed high above street level, and you wouldn't notice it unless you know where to look) than someone taking photos, and because it can contribute to much more extensive tracking of your movements, as well as a potentially permanent record of your activities.

      Now, if you're out shopping, it's unlikely to be worth caring about.

      But what if you belong to some legal but controversial politic

    • by Andrew Cady (115471) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @11:01AM (#8211451)
      It's true that, as a practical matter, privacy in public places cannot be obtained. That is no reason to say it is not desirable, or that greater privacy in public should not be encouraged. A camera on a street corner might be compared to an anonymous passer-by observing your day-to-day routine. Or it might be compared to an ominous figure lurking in the bushes, following you from a block or two behind, mysterously present every day. Unless we know how the cameras are being used, which we cannot, we do not know which comparison is more apt. The reality likely varies depending on the individual being taped.

      One significant difference between public spaces with cameras and without is that, in general, in public spaces the observer is also public; he cannot hide from you any more than you from him. That seems to be a good check on particularly odious police monitoring; it is legal, for sure, but since it can be observed by anyone, the police are still checked by public opinion. There is no public opinion of secret police activity, though, and all monitoring via camera falls into this category.
  • Street lighting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msgmonkey (599753) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:34AM (#8211095)
    I don't know if this is the same study, but I recently read that having decent street lighting is more effective than cameras. In addition near where I live they put CCTV on a main busy shopping road. The amount of crime on the road decreased, but all that happened is that it increased in the ajoining side roads.
  • by nysus (162232) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:34AM (#8211096)
    Back in the old days, you had to give the common person power less they rebel against you and cause all sorts of problems for the ruling class. I'm afraid that's all quickly coming to an end. Governments and heads of state will have such powerful technological tools at their disposal to nip any rebellion in the bud. Keylogging tools, surveillance cameras, etc. may all be benign in a democratic, but what about in a 100 years when we are bound to live in a very different kind of world? They very well could become the tools of oppression so many people fear.

    I don't like this trend in technology and I don't trust it.
    • Technology is not a thing that can be only used by the government or the elite ruling class. Technology I think (at least properly used) far more levels the playing field than giving one side a huge advantage/disadvantage. As long as there is inventive spirit and we are permited to walk around with at least moderately advanced technological tools/devices without arising suspicion we will still have a fair playing field.
      • Technology is not a thing that can be only used by the government or the elite ruling class. Technology I think (at least properly used) far more levels the playing field than giving one side a huge advantage/disadvantage.

        That is possible but only if people take an active interest in making it so. As technology grows more and more complex, the facilities required to build technological devices grow more expensive, and therefore more easily controlled by those in power. It is perfectly possible for tech

    • So what you're saying is that the Revolution WILL be televised?
    • It's not rebellion, it's terrorism. Welcome to 2004. :-)
  • we once had two deliberate fires in one month, and a couple of attempts that didn't suceed. Shortly after we got a few surveillance cameras. Since then we have not had any fires around the building where I live, but then it started happen in different places not very far from here.
  • by Lurker McLurker (730170) <allthecoolnameshavegone&gmail,com> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:39AM (#8211114)
    A lot of people feel safer if they see cameras in their neighbourhood. They aren't going to do an analysis of the effectiveness of these measures. If the politicians appear to do something that is pro-active in the war against crime, they will receive votes.

    This is why "tough" anti-crime policies will always be more common than "liberal" ones. The latter may be more effective, but the former (cameras, mandatory minimum sentences etc.) get the votes.

  • by ljavelin (41345) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:40AM (#8211119)
    It turns out that Northeastern University has decided to post pictures of a post-Superbowl riot near the campus of Northeastern University. The intent seems to be to identify the rioters and vandals who destroyed cars and property. It seems that officials at Northeastern believe that the rioters may be somehow affiliated with the university (and few dispute that idea).

    As of now, Northeastern's web site only has a couple dozen photographs of vandalism in action [neu.edu]. But they do have videos from nearby video cameras... it may just be a matter of time before they post some video clips.

    Clearly these rioters were both stupid and committed crimes, so there's no need to debate the criminal aspects of their activity.

    But is it OK for anyone to secretly videotape activities in the street? Is it OK for Northeastern to pin their students based on video and film taken by random observers?

    • Is it okay for a witness to a crime to finger a suspect? How is a camera any different, other than that it is much harder to falsify video than it is to make up a story? Please think from point A to point B before posting. Thank you.
    • This is interesting because, at least where I live, you can make a recording (audio or video) of any exchange of which you were a part.

      If I have a conversation, I can record it. If two other people do, and I am just nearby, I cannot. I suspect the owners of those cameras were not involved in the activity, so it would not be legally admissible evidence, at least if it were taken by a civilian.

      If I understand correctly, it might even be indirect enough to invalidate a warrant based on it, in which case the
  • by relrelrel (737051) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:42AM (#8211125)
    It's about catching the people who do the crimes AFTER the crime has taken place. I know alot of people (mainly Americans) start saying "Big Brother" at having cameras watching you, but it's really not anything you think about, the people watching you are watching about 30 other screens, and what are they going to see you doing? Walking? Ouch. Now imagine you're walking and you get mugged, now you'll be glad about the cameras who can now have an idea of what the mugger looks like and there's a much greater chance of them being caught. Video surveilance usage is monitored, it's not like the govt is spying on you and keeping tabs trying to get you to part with your tinfoil hat.

    • The main reason for concern for any technology like this isn't how it is used now. It is how adding surveillance everywhere and making it accepted make it easier for people who wish to abuse power in the future.

      Once surveillance is in place the opportunity for abuse is there.

      I'm not saying it will happen, or that all surveillance is bad. But it IS important to consider how much power you would be willing to grant government officials, considering that it is not given that a government 10, 20, 50 years d

  • by rm007 (616365) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:46AM (#8211140) Journal
    I lived in the UK during the 1990s when the installation of these things really took off. It always amazed me that at the time, that the idea of photos on driver's licenses was anathema (and was resisted when it was introduced) but people took relatively little umbrage at the notion of surveillance cameras. Once they were installed, people pointed to the benefits, but I seem to recall news reports over the years to the effect that they merely tended to drive street crime to areas without the cameras i.e. they were effective to a point, but sometimes displaced crime rather than reducing it.
  • All the better (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <drawocsuomynorieh>> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:47AM (#8211142) Journal
    Monitoring cameras are not about democracy vs. oppression, they are about eliminating the tragedy of the commons.

    Take speeding: when you speed, you save some journey time. When others speed, they endanger your life. Cameras on the road (as seen recently in France) tell individuals "your acts are not cost-free", and so they behave better.

    Britain is a pretty sad place to live in, but this has nothing to do with cameras and a lot to do with geography and history. The explosion of cameras in public places may not have eliminated crime, but they appear to have kept it in check, despite rising drug use, increasing poverty in many areas, etc.

    I have to vote in favour of the cameras: it's one of those cases where the common need for decent behaviour in public places overrides the individual's right to privacy. I've often thought that in other countries - like Belgium, where I live - surveillence cameras would be a good thing, cutting down on the petty crime: bag theft, broken car windows, men pissing in public, muggings, etc. which make the average citizen feel insecure and end up voting for right-wing parties.

    Ironically, better public behaviour is probably better for democracy, not the reverse, since historically extremist governments rise from situations of uncertainty, not from stable societies. Crime waves push people to accepting extreme leaders in the name of law and order.

    • Re:All the better (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andrew Cady (115471)
      I've talked about the general issue and reasons I disagree with this perspective, elsewhere in the thread. I will only add here that, although it may seem perverse, I would actually prefer that it be difficult to "keep crime in check despite increasing poverty". In general, when it is easier to stop crime by ever-more-powerful law enforcement than by ameliorating the social causes of crime, I anticipate evils far greater than common crime, and I fear any technology which brings us further into that world.
  • Go here [samizdata.net] and tell me that actual poster of the metro police isn't the creepiest thing you've seen in a while.

    Crime in London has skyrocketed in the past few years, pretty much because it's illegal to defend yourself with any conviction over there, with any weapon. The state will keep you safe, they say- except they can't.

    You're six times more likely [straightistheway.com] to be mugged in London than New York City.

    The cameras are a joke on the populus- they live under constant survellience because of the promise it will mak
    • People in America have quoted statistics like your "six times more likely.." one, when I've been over there. Your source sounds a bit loony to me when I read it but hey it's probably true, I understand NY has seriously been cutting it's crime recently.

      Despite that, your Average American is still 7 times more likely to get murdered than me (a Brit) and 60 (yes, 60) times more likely to get shot.

      I think I'll still support our gun laws, thanks.

    • by Space cowboy (13680) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:41AM (#8211363) Journal
      From reported US and UK government studies [bbc.co.uk]:


      The murder rate in London is 2.9 per 100,000 compared with 8.6 per 100,000 in New York and 49.15 per 100,000 in Washington DC.

      A report produced by the US Department of Justice in 1998 would appear to support the Home Office's claims.

      It shows the murder rate was 5.7 times higher in the US than England and Wales and the rape rate was about three times higher.


      You are indeed more likely to get roughed up wandering around London's dark streets in the small hours than in New York. No argument there.

      You are also more likely to get killed in New York than in London. You are FAR MORE LIKELY to get killed in the USA capital than in the UK capital. Lets compare like with like after all.

      Your choice guys, but frankly I'd rather be roughed up than killed. Just like the USA, btw, the figures for outside the capital are not even vaguely related. There are still much better odds of survival in the UK than the USA.

      Yeah I know, mod me down. Yadda yadda.

      Simon.
  • I'm not enough of a tin-foil hat to worry about the cameras; they're only in public places. If the cameras aren't working then I guess they should go. I'm sure I've heard statistics (how anecdotal ;) that say they've done a good job. If not I guess I have no more objection to them going away than I did to having them arrive, although I do feel safer if I know they are about.
  • by Tim Ward (514198) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:13AM (#8211229) Homepage
    As a councillor who participates in decisions about deploying these cameras ...

    The deterrent effect is debated. However there are some effects which are for real and not open to debate:

    (1) When a perp is caught on camera they are more likely to plead guilty and save lots of time and money in the court system. (This is why the court system puts up some of the cost of the cameras.)

    (2) People who have been suspected of an offence have been proved not to be guilty by camera footage, thus eliminating the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

    (3) The people like the cameras and keep asking for more of them.

    And the main benefit:

    (4) Fear of crime is reduced.

    It's not the level of actual crime that makes little old ladies to frightened to leave their houses in the evening to go to the bingo, it's fear of crime. Sticking up cameras does not reduce the number of little old ladies who are mugged on their way to bingo (because this crime is pretty well non-existent to start with) but it does make the old ladies feel confident to go out, which is a significant improvement in their quality of life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:13AM (#8211236)
    I was robbed last Saturday afternoon in the Tesco supermarket in Eastleigh (Hampshire, England), losing the electric kettle that I'd just bought from another shop (crime #1377/04). Basically I put it down for a minute and it was gone. It only cost about $25, but the same criminal may well go on to steal from hundreds more people.

    The crime happened in a shop with security cameras, within a shopping mall with security cameras, within a town centre with more security cameras.

    I know when the theft occurred and I gave a description within minutes to representatives of the store, mall and police. I even visited the mall's security centre, with a duplicate of the stolen kettle in an identical bag, and spoke to the staff who watch the video feeds.

    Everyone denied having any useful video information and the police representative at their call centre was friendly but dismissive.

    I don't know what security cameras are really for, but they don't seem to be useful in fighting crime.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:16AM (#8211248)
    I live in a British town that pioneered public CCTV. We were the first at pilot a scheme back in the 80s, and I know a of the people around here, a few council members and some coppers and what their views on this are.

    The biggest problem is COST. Some of the cameras are now almost 20 years old, and are starting to show their age. The original 8 million to install them is now 30 or 40 million to replace them all.

    Over the years the cost of staffing the monitors, archiving and erasing tapes and so on has also added a huge cost.

    So what are the benefits? Well for the most part an increase in solved crimes (convictions). But the argument that you solve more crime by being aware of more crime is an odd one. Largely its petty vandalism, common assault (street fights) and crap like that. Their value in combatting serious crime or terrorism is very low, in 20 years I cannot a single serious crime solved in this town directly due to CCTV evidence - I might be wrong, but surely I would remember _one_.

    When the cameras first went up the town was very split over it. Many cameras were smashed and crime _against_the_cameras_ actualy went up for a while. After that people kinda got used to them. The truth is that very few of them are actually switched in anymore, you can see from the rusty water bleeding from their sides and the fact that no LEDs are active on them anymore.

    The network is slowly falling apart. I see the same job for 'surveilence observer' at $6/hour offered every week and no takers.

    It was an interesting experiment. For a while we all felt safer and petty street crime fell, but now we are left with a dilapidated system that will cost millions to update/replace and very few
    real convictions as a result of it.

    Spending that money on putting some more coppers on the street would have been a lot better.
  • Westminster Council (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:20AM (#8211259)
    I think Westminster's system is one of the most effective. Their area covers some very high crime areas (leicester square, oxford circus). They claim a 51% decrease in street crime and a 12% increase in crime clearup rates after installing a vast CCTV system.
    It's mainly used to better target the limited number of police available - it's not just about deterrence and after-the-fact clear up , it's well enough integrated and implemented that they can spot pickpockets and muggers as they move in to commit a crime and direct nearby police to arrest them.
  • Like the subject says. If you've got 4 million surveilance cameras, who's doing the surveilling? Criminals know that it's not possible for someone to be watching all the time, so they go ahead and commit their crimes. It would have been better if the UK police had been more selective in where they placed the cameras -- areas with known crime problems. Also, areas that because of their geography and arrangement, are prone to crime (think alleyways). In a way, you don't want cameras in areas favored by s
    • Not to sound lika an apologist for the cameras, but we also have things called video recorders. What tends to happen is that X gets mugged, X reports it, and the tape of the event is retrieved and watched. Y gts apprehended, shown the video, confesses because there's no room for manouvre, cost far less in court time, and is off the streets faster.

      Personally though, I disagree with them as an invasion of my life. My right to anonymity shouldn't be restricted to the confines of my home, at least IMHO.

      Simon.
  • by m00nun1t (588082) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:25AM (#8211282) Homepage
    Presumably following the trend, you see many london buses have cameras installed in them, and signs letting you know about that.

    A few years ago while on a bus in London late at night (number 52 towards Kensal Green) I was mugged. Of course I spoke to the police, and amongst other things asked if they could get the photos/video from the bus.

    They investigated. The answer? The cameras aren't real - they are dummies there as a deterrent. I wonder if having a fake camera is better or worse than no camera - the public feels safer but I bet most of the criminals know they are fake. The worst of both worlds?
  • Brilliant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quintessencesluglord (652360) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:39AM (#8211355)
    And when you point your camera back at the surveillance cameras, what happens then?

    Bring enough money for bail.

    And why do only the commons need protection? Certain the President needs constant surveillance and a nation of witnesses? And certainly those who favor surveillance wouldn't mind their own specific cameras to keep them safe, and allow those of us who can take care of ourselves a little privacy?

    The hypocrisy of the arguments for surveillance is a little short of disgusting when my own government keeps secrets from me.

    In short, fuck you.
  • by spray_john (466650) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:46AM (#8211386)

    I think that a lot of people who don't live with CCTV (and haven't seen all the British fly on the wall docus about its use) misunderstand the practice.

    Typically, CCTV takes one of two forms:

    • Video streams that go into temp storage and are never watched unless a crime is reported. My secondary school had this: smoked-glass domes that were wired straight to VCRs. All they ever did was provide something to make rude gestures at.
    • Big 'ole banks of monitors that are watched by someone in a control room who coordinates people on the streets. The obvious example is Oxford Street - plain-clothes police in the crowds, with a CCTV operator guiding them in to pickpockets.

    In either sense, it's not really surveillance in the way the one usually thinks of it. The cameras are there, but practically all of the footage never gets watched. Your movements aren't tracked. As for voyeurism, if you do something in a public place then it's probably pretty public anyway. I'm not a proponent of the "But if you've got nothing to hide" point of view, I just don't think that CCTV as it's mostly used in the UK is an invasion of privacy. There is a difference between being watched and being monitored/tracked. British citizens in public places may be almost constantly watched, but they're certainly not monitored.

    Now, a massive face-tracking database, that would be different. But that's not an issue of direct surveillance, that's a question of how data is linked together and used by powerful organisations. In reality, most of those cameras are not linked together in some kind of all-powerful network across the country. A very significant proportion are in fact operated by private companies on their own premises: not by Big Brother at all.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @11:06AM (#8211467) Journal
    I think the arguments around speed camera's say it all. Most of the people against seem to reason that they prevent them from driving above the speed limit. Well fucking DUH.

    There seem to be a large number of people who consider CERTAIN laws to be an injustice against them. Note that emphasis on certain. These speeders seem to have no trouble with the law preventing me from driving my fleet of tractors side by side on the highway. Hell most get pretty upset when trucks dare to overtake each other.

    Speed camera's exist because people do no obey the speed limit. Rememeber your childhood? "Mom I want to be threathed like a grownup." "Then act like one". Worse even are the people who think speed cameras are tax collectors. Taxes are unavoidable. Speed tickets are easy to avoid. Don't speed.

    So on to CCTV. Why is it there? Because people just can't seem to behave when out on the street. When I grew up and you had to go to the toilet you went to the nearest store or goverment building and asked to use the toilet. If unavailable then you went to the park and INTO the bushed and peed there. YOU DID NOT PEE IN PUBLIC AGAINST THE DOOR OF A BUILDING.

    We do not want to pay for police to be everywhere and another problem is that if as a citizen you say something about this you can easily end up dead. Several people who said something about misbehavious have ended up dead in holland alone and I do not think that is a local problem.

    So we either all learn to behave or impose some really heavy penalties on badly raised people or learn to live with cameras. of course the alternative is living in a lawless unchecked society.

    Civilization is a great number of people living together. We need rules to be able to handle that and tools to make sure the rules are obeyed. So far I never heard a single civil liberty fanboy give an alternative. Greenpeace I respect because they give alternatives, even funding the development of electric cars. Civil Liberty groups I detest because they are only ever against.

    • I think the arguments around speed camera's say it all. Most of the people against seem to reason that they prevent them from driving above the speed limit. Well fucking DUH.

      You missing something important about the speed camera debate; speeding does not cause accidents in any great way. The vast majority of accidents are caused by bad or agressive driving, driver error or road conditions.

      Don't get me wrong, I have nothing agaisnt 30-limit cameras, as speed matters when hitting a pedestrian. But on th

    • Civilization is a great number of people living together.

      And for civilization to work, you need to have a basic level of trust and respect for people. If you don't, and all your resources go into putting together the rules and the tools to enforce those rules, then you have a civilization who figured out what the problems are with those tools and how to evade them. (My example to prove this point is a little odd...but its politicians and campaign finance laws. Plenty of rules, plenty of tools, but the mor
  • by Quizo69 (659678) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:07PM (#8211719) Homepage
    I think most people fear this camera creep, because right now it concentrates the power of surveillance in the hands of the minority - the police and/or private security firms, at a time when the major western governments are at the low point with public trust.

    I too hate surveillance and consider it an invasion of privacy, but I would relent on one condition - that instead of having only a minority do the surveillance, allow everyone to have full access to all public camera footage, in real time. Open it all up to public scrutiny, and you're bound to have a thousand times as many eyes watching, plus you get the added benefit of knowing that since everyone is watching everyone else, corruption is less likely to occur in the system. This scenario also prevents any future totalitarian government from usurping the system for its own ends, because the system will be in the hands of everyone, not just a privileged few. How many current politicians do you think would support such a system? I'd wager not many, precisely because then THEY would be put in the spotlight.

    Any politician who supports surveillance camera technology should be mandated to be under surveillance themselves, at all times, and I say this from a perspective of running for politics this year myself (www.neteffect.org.au). And no, I don't advocate surveillance cameras, because I think the right to privacy and anonymity outweighs any benefit in cutting down crime.
  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:08PM (#8211730) Homepage Journal


    I was in London working for a few months back in 2000 and had my laptop snatched right off my lap as I was using it on the train. The culprits had been standing on the train platform waiting for the train and they simply ran in, grabbed it, then ran out with it an out of the station. The train driver and the police all got involved and called up to have the video cameras download the video recording to the central police station. Apparently, they store the video data locally where the cameras are and then if something happens, they'll grab the footage for the time of the incident. Well, even though they had video footage of the criminals standing around and then committing the crime, they were never caught.

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