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Cambridge, Mass. Moves To Nix Security Cameras 366

An anonymous reader writes "Citing privacy concerns, the Cambridge, Mass. City Council has voted 9-0 to remove security cameras scattered throughout the city. 'Because of the slow erosion of our civil liberties since 9/11, it is important to raise questions regarding these cameras,' said Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge city councilor. Rather than citing privacy, WCBVTV is running the story under the headline 'City's Move To Nix Security Cams May Cost Thousands.'"
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Cambridge, Mass. Moves To Nix Security Cameras

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  • by A non-mouse Coward ( 1103675 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:15PM (#26830597)
    Where's the tag!?
    • by LordKaT ( 619540 )

      there it is

    • suddenoutbreakofcommonsense; Where's the tag!?

      It was nixed too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This comment was unfairly labeled "troll" and given a score of -1. I don't mind disagreement. In fact, I embrace it. Strength comes from diversity. However I DO object to censorship. Moderating someone into invisibility simply because you disagree is NOT why you were given moderator points Mister.

      >>>>> Commonsense

      I gotta disagree. Replacing the policeman with a mechanical version is no different than replacing operators with self-dialing phones. It's called progress and improving efficie

  • Security cameras are just for show - they aren't really useful for anything else than figuring out that somehting had happened and to provide some amusing clips on YouTube.

    • They are useful for figuring out when something happened.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Disagree. Security cameras may not stop crime, but they can be used as evidence in a trial, rather than let the criminal get-away to kill somebody else.

      We just had a case like that in Pennsylvania where some crooks broke-into a bank. Had the cameras Not been there, they would still be running free. But now they are sitting in jail. Cameras are just another method of collecting evidence.

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Considering that most security cameras has a crappy video quality you won't really see much of use except to be able to tell when something happened - if someone has been smart enough to set the clock correctly.

        If you are really lucky with your security camera you may get useful pictures, but most of them are just for show.

      • A bank is private have the right to spy on your own property. This is about constant public surveillance, and paying for the privilege.
    • Re:Security cameras. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:15PM (#26831545) Homepage

      Speak for yourself.

      My interior security cameras at the house trigger the alarm and page me when motion is detected in zones if the alarm is armed. They also were successfully used as evidence to put away the punk that robbed me. Thieves are brain dead and will look directly at cameras.

      also the driveway camera triggers the doorbell if a car sized object enters the driveway.

      Security cameras are very useful and work great.

      PUBLIC security cameras are useless except for government violation of civil rights.

  • by bagboy ( 630125 ) <> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:20PM (#26830679)
    There is NO expectation of privacy when you are in public. Security cameras, when placed in common public areas are no problem. Heck, I can video tape you all I want on a street corner, as long as it is for my own private amusement.
    • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:26PM (#26830783) Homepage

      Once maybe. If you do it systematically, it becomes stalking and/or grounds for a restraining order.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:02PM (#26831281) Homepage

        Nope. I can record you every day. and in fact I do to some people, without legal issues.

        There is a bus stop in front of my home, one of my security cameras cover that area and I record every person that get's on and off the bus. (motion recording is passe' record 24-7 and have event markers)

        so wah! and yes I have been asked for video from the cops. I require them to supeona me for my own legal defense.

      • I'm not sure why someone modded the parent Funny. It's not.

        The problem with ubiquitous surveillance (video, credit card, GPS, cellphone, etc.) is that it can be used for things other than simply providing date/time/place evidence of a crime. Aggregating and cross-correlating this information creates a detailed picture of someone's life and habits.

        Those who spout the simplistic 'if you haven't done anything wrong ...' not only miss the danger that ubiquitous, government-controlled surveillance represent

    • by chicago_scott ( 458445 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:27PM (#26830795) Journal

      I'm assuming you're a private citizen, so you most likely don't have the power or the resources to abuse this system in quite the same capacity that the government has the ability to. Government and is priorities constantly change.

    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:27PM (#26830801) Homepage Journal

      That's not really the issue, and you've missed the point.

      There is a wide gulf between having no expectation of privacy and accepting a surveillance culture.

    • I'd like to think I have the right to pick my nose on an empty street corner without the picture making it online.

      • I'd like to think I have the right to pick my nose on an empty street corner without the picture making it online.

        I'd like to think that you don't. However, I might be inclined to agree that you have the right to pick your nose on an empty street corner without the government taking a picture and it making it online.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vux984 ( 928602 )

      There is NO expectation of privacy when you are in public. Security cameras, when placed in common public areas are no problem. Heck, I can video tape you all I want on a street corner, as long as it is for my own private amusement.

      Yeah, if walk through your camera shot in a public place, that's one thing. But setting up a network of camera's to track everything I do, everywhere I go from the moment I step out my front door until I make it back again... that's a whole other ballgame.

    • There may not be any expectation of privacy, but I'd rather not have my tax dollars go towards the city/state/country watch my every move.
    • I may not expect anything to be private if I do it in public, but I think I ought to be able to safely expect not to be carefully and actively monitored throughout public spaces. The kind of tech available now with facial recognition/tracking, tying into all kinds of other databases about seemingly every aspect of our lives means that a lot more information can be gotten by "public" means than ever before.

      The change is in the ability to store, analyse and cross-reference so much more data... it's certainl

  • Great News (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chicago_scott ( 458445 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:21PM (#26830683) Journal

    It good to hear that at least one city council has worked up enough back-bone to stand up to law enforcement on this issue. I hope the Chicago City Council comes to a similar conclusion and convenience Mayor Daley that this is a waste of money and shut our surveillance system down in lieu of hiring more officers, if necessary. Unfortunately Mayor Daley pushes public surveillance pretty hard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shihar ( 153932 )

      There is more than one sane city council. Somerville, the next town over from Cambridge, just recently passed a similar law. I believe that the Somerville version halted the camera instillation, killed plans to put up more, and put them under review as to if they want to keep few that are already up.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:22PM (#26830705)
    Remove? Um. Simply turn them off.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Onaga ( 1369777 )
      The cameras were paid for by a grant. Maybe DHS at least wants the cameras back to install in... more understanding neighborhoods. DHS doesn't want to pay for uninstalling something that they wanted installed. DHS won't let them simply turn it off.
    • by loteck ( 533317 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:46PM (#26831097) Homepage
      Having become so accustomed to hearing the term "millions", "billions" and, more recently "trillions" used to describe public spending, I had to look up this strange word "thousands". Apparently, it represents something akin to like .0001 percent of a trillion dollars. I had no idea such antiquated amounts of money were still spent in the public sector. I thought you couldn't even get a toilet seat for under a million...
  • They could have said "City's Move To Nix Security Cams May KILL YOUR CHILDREN!"

    I mean, remember poor Caylee?

  • What's the price of our civil liberties these days?
  • title? (Score:5, Funny)

    by quickOnTheUptake ( 1450889 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:33PM (#26830883)

    Cambridge, Mass. Moves To Nix Security Cameras

    Did anyone else think this meant they were installing security cameras running BSD?

  • by kcurtis ( 311610 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:36PM (#26830931)

    It isn't stated explicitly, but it appears that the city used part of the grant already to install the first few cameras.

    It isn't that the physical removal will cost money, but that they may have to reimburse the feds for the grant money now that they have opted out of the program.

    Also, this is not certain -- which is why it "may" cost thousands.

  • a good place to commit crimes in public. Thanks, slashdot!
  • If you dig around long enough, they argue that the real purpose of the cameras is to "help in the case of a city evacuation". The images from the cams suck [] though. I'd expect better if they wanted to secretly spy on us. Perhaps the only things these will catch is the next group who tries to install LightBrite guerrilla advertising in the Porter Square.

    Honestly, I'm not too worried if the Department of Homeland Security catches me biking to work in Cambridge. What I don't like is the traffic cameras th

  • Motive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evil_aar0n ( 1001515 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:00PM (#26831259)

    Just a thought, and maybe my tin-foil hat is too snug, but could the local govt find themselves removing these cams because the _police_ didn't like the notion that _they_ might be filmed in public doing things they shouldn't do, like, I dunno, beating protesters? I'm not saying that's happened, but where's the outrage from the police and the protestations that they need these cameras to "protect teh childrenz"?

  • Now it might be interesting if by some government mandate that all security cameras (homes, businesses, ATMs, etc.) were banned in Cambridge. As any recordings made by any of these cameras can be subject to subpoena, does it really matter if the city itself is sprinkling a few more around?

    So unless they want to mandate that all of these cameras have to be removed, it really doesn't mean all that much. In a busy downtown area you are likely to be visible in three or four cameras at the same time from diffe

  • Forgive me if this is unpopular, but exactly _how_ are civil liberties eroded by cameras in public places? One ought to behave there, and blinding cameras would seem to only profit the rowdy and uncivil.

    Sure, the tapes should have a very short retention period (month, year max) to avoid muckraking and other character assasination. Accessing by individual rather than event,place&time is clearly stalking and ought to be punished as such. Unfortunately, oversight of police is generally deficient. But

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @04:26PM (#26832823) Journal

    Oh hello, this is the UK. I say, would you mind lending us some of your politicians? We'd be very much obliged.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.