Town Outsources Video Camera Surveillance To Resident Volunteers?

from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept

Talk about a bad idea in action. We've seen plenty of stories about the growing "surveillance" society that we live in these days -- with cc cameras showing up pretty much everywhere in large cities. But who watches the cameras? Well, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, apparently the answer is anyone who volunteers to do so. First, the city decided to install a ton of cameras -- more than either San Francisco or Boston, despite a massive difference in size. Then, recognizing how difficult it is to monitor everything, the city turned over the managing of the cameras to a private entity who is employing an army of volunteers to not just watch, but control the cameras, and having them "report" any suspicious activities. The article notes that studies have shown such cameras may be limited in their effectiveness (there's no evidence of a decrease in violent crime from them, but some evidence of a decrease in "property" crime).

Still what's really bizarre is allowing unpaid volunteers to man the cameras -- with even the officials from the city admitting that training for the camera operators has been "informal," but that they try to "weed out voyeurs and anyone who might use the tapes for blackmail or other illegal activity." Well, phew. Doesn't that make you feel more comfortable? And then there's this lovely quote from a local business owner who likes the program: "There's nothing wrong with instilling fear." Er... actually, there are lots of things wrong with it...

This actually reminds me a bit of Jay Walker's (of Priceline fame) old idea of allowing individuals at home to monitor secure locations via video streams to their desktop. The idea there was quite a bit different though. It wasn't to watch over people wandering around a downtown area, but to put the cameras on secure areas where no one should ever be -- and the idea was that multiple people would all have the same boring screens up at the same time, and if suddenly someone did show up, hopefully people would notice it and hit the "someone's there" button, to alert security. That idea didn't go very far, but at least it was limited to areas where there weren't any privacy issues. The Lancaster plan, on the other hand, is just scary.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 3:58am

    what issues?

    Perhaps I'm a bit slow. (I know, I'm leaving myself open here!)

    But if these cameras are IN PUBLIC, monitoring public spaces, then what privacy issues are there?

    If I am in one of these areas, and I take my clothes off, I will be arrested for indecent public exposure. PUBLIC exposure. There is NO EXPECTATION of privacy in a public space, the case law is pretty settled here, isn't it?

    So please explain what privacy issues you are worried about.

    Sure, there may be issues of, say, blackmail, if a volunteer monitor sees a person where they should not be, with a person they shouldn't be there with, and a danger they could use surveillance tape as a tool. But that also is a danger if that volunteer were to observe that same scene as a private citizen and take a cell phone video for the same nefarious purpose!

    Same situation, the person being observed is in a public place, and should be aware that their image can be captured and misused, should they be doing something they could get in trouble for. They have no expectation of privacy.

    Any professional photographer has the right to take pictures in a public space. If you happen to be there, and your image is captured, it can be used in that photographer's work. Yes, pros usually try to get permission first as a legal preemptive move, but it isn't required in most places.

    So I am puzzled, what privacy issues are there to these cameras? That needs closer examination!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Yosi, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:22am

    Re: what issues?

    Absolutely right.
    I'm too against putting cameras all over the town, but "privacy" is not issue here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Robert, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:25am

    Liability

    Who is liable should some pervert get past the "screening"? The city? Other screeners? Camera installer? Property owners of locations where camera used physically sits?

    It's not a matter of I'd, but when.

    Someone must be libel here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    CmdrOberon, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:29am

    Gee, Mike. A little inconsistent again?

    What's the problem? It's public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:34am

    Re: what issues?

    So please explain what privacy issues you are worried about.

    It's a combination of things. First, gov't equipment that is placed in places not readily seen or realized by individuals.

    But, more importantly, the fact that random "volunteers" have control over how these cameras are used -- leaving people open to stalking/spying in a way where those who are doing the viewing are both unknown... and have the power of the gov't behind them.

    Any professional photographer has the right to take pictures in a public space. If you happen to be there, and your image is captured, it can be used in that photographer's work.

    But in such cases you can see who's photographing you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:36am

    Re:

    Gee, Mike. A little inconsistent again?

    Nope. Not at all.

    Gee, Mike. A little inconsistent again?

    Yes, it's a public area, but we're talking about gov't controlled surveillance equipment, put in the hands of untrained "volunteer" citizens with the power to call the police instantly?

    That's not at all the same as a private company taking street photos that show up online months later.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    andBeans, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:44am

    Re: Secure Areas

    For the secure areas (where there should be no people/movement), it's very trival to use any camera system from the past 10 years that has motion detection built right into the camera's firmware. No need to have anyone "monitor" the video feed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Hidden, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:01am

    spying?

    I am not sure what the law is on spying, but if you were to stand in public with a video camera and videotape someone's window could they possibly be justified in calling the cops?

    Would any of you tell someone to piss off if they were to follow you around with a video camera in public?

    How would you feel if someone was just following you everywhere you go in public? Waiting for you to leave a shop. Following you to your house?

    Would none of you feel violated?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    slacker525600 (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:08am

    given that there are not privacy concerns

    Id rather have a volunteer group watching the feeds than somebody employed by the government.

    In fact I would almost say that the ideal situation would be that there is a site and you can get a random feed that occasionally changes, such that it makes it very difficult to follow somebody. With some method built in for labeling something as suspicious with that causing either an object or a camera to be more likely to pop up. Of course this could be used by a voyeur or a stalker, but systems can be built in to try and prevent the abuse of the system.

    Also, everybody is a little bit of a voyeur, just look at the popularity of reality television and ridiculous shows where people sacrifice their privacy for a (half baked) chance at fame.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:24am

    paintball

    Works great

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    R. Miles (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:31am

    Note to self: Never move to Lancaster, PA

    Still what's really bizarre is allowing unpaid volunteers to man the cameras.
    Why do I get the feeling a future Techdirt article is going to write about the abuse of this system?

    Anyone who thinks people won't use it to spy are fooling themselves.

    As for the public argument: There is validity in the statement, but there's nothing public about who is monitoring the camera. What if the camera is pointing into a bedroom window as opposed to the street the house is sitting on?

    Moreso, it appears there is no proper training regarding when to press the panic button. So, should people be worried 10 squad cars will appear for the simple act of jaywalking?

    Cameras are one thing. Ignorant people running them is quite another, and trust me, these people are ignorant by sheer definition of lack of training.

    I pity those living in Lancaster, PA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    mechwarrior, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:31am

    You can stalk people in public. That doesnt make it right though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    kwip (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Very little debate?

    As a resident of Lancaster, I'm more than a little amused that the article says there was "little public debate." Granted, it's from the LA Times, so maybe if there aren't burning cars and firebombed buildings it doesn't quite count, but there has been a great deal of debate about those cameras. We are fighting a rapidly growing gang crime problem (what city isn't?), so on one hand the cameras are good to have - and contrary to what the article reports, there have been a number of crimes that were caught in that act and stopped by a quick response from the police force. Of course that makes it hard to say no to them - but there have also been a lot of concerns about a number of the cameras that point right into people's homes. Then it's no longer an issue of 'public' areas, but private areas that have no business being on camera. Even the border areas - someone's front door - are questionable. But if that someone is suspected of dealing drugs, should they get afforded the same privacy (yes, I know, they SHOULD, because they're only *suspected* - but we're dealing with the real world here, not idealized concepts)? Blah.

    Anyway, the subject is still being debated here. Obviously the people that oppose the idea are being railroaded, because the camera installation continues to expand, but it's not like they went around hanging cameras willy-nilly and all of us (and the Amish) cruise by them and give them thumbs up. This article revealing the 'amateur' status of the program's monitors (and gaining national exposure) is sure to open up another round of debates and probably a lawsuit or three...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    jon, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:44am

    my story

    My homeowners assc put a 16 camera system at the pool and clubhouse and any member that wants to can get a login to the system just by asking. This way people are looking at that building most of the time. It has totally resolved the problem of college kids having parties at 4:00 AM, vandals having a field day at 3:00AM, and a wide variety of other pains in the rear end. People see something going on and call the cops. The cops love it because almost every time they have shown up they at least get someone on an outstanding warrant. Often they catch taggers or vandals in the act. Tagging in this whole part of town has dropped significantly because of it. Many people have been tresspass warning cards so if they are there again they automatically get arrested, and several have been. I have no problem with it. Those few people who want to screw in the jacuzzi at 1:00AM have to walk past the 24 hour video surveillance signs to get there, they deserve to be seen. Meanwhile the facility stays in good shape for the rest of us. I saw two couples in the jacuzzi who I recogized, so I told them they were being recorded. They told me that they knew the risk and were willing to take it. They asked for a copy! I made them one.

    Bottom line is that is does no harm to anyone who is not doing anything wrong. It is a deterent for those who wander the gray area. Last but certainly not least, it is evidence for those who are criminals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: what issues?

    But in such cases you can see who's photographing you.

    Not always.

    And why should government equipment always be in sight? Again, no privacy expectation, so one MUST ALWAYS assume one is under some kind of observation.

    I don't see the problem here at all.

    Police departments set up sting operations all the time, closed observation posts in convenience stores to catch armed robbers. The only difference here is that the watching cop isn't there in person, and must call patrol cars if a problem is observed. And that is in a privately owned establishment. (with owner's permission of course)

    So the police ALWAYS have the power of the government behind them, and they aren't always observable when they watch. It's just that today, the watcher isn't always there in person, but behind a camera miles away.

    Not a lot of difference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:48am

    The camera's are in PUBLIC. Could easily be a cop or another individual standing there in place of the Camera.

    The PUBLIC cameras may not work to stop crime but they make one really good witness. I say record it all and have a very strong viewing policy - IE: Police & public lawyer review of specifically requested time frames (if no crime is report what the hell are you doing viewing the footage).

    In an apartment type condo I lived all the PUBLIC area's had cameras. Simply by switching to channel 1 you could watch security system cycle through all the cameras (about a dozen or so). Anyone coming to the front doors and ringing your apartment would result in picture-in-picture type view of the front door with your guest. Nice system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:55am

    Scary?

    I'm afraid I don't really buy into the FUD here. I agree that it is very likely a wasted effort, but not sure what the concern is.

    Mike has made the point himself a number of times that the technology isn't to blame--so the issue must be elsewhere. Yes, you might be less aware of being monitored, but you should have no expectation of privacy or not being monitored in a public place.

    As for the volunteers (or any individuals) potentially abusing the system? I would have a problem if this is allowing abuse that could not occur otherwise, but it isn't--I can spy on people or film people in public places using other means and I can do so in ways that would make it difficult or impossible for those being monitored to know. If the issue is that it is too easy, then we are back to the Facebook facilitates child predation analogy.

    In other words, I think the fallacy here is that the abuse is created by this approach. If someone wants to spy on someone or blackmail them because of something they observed, they could do it with or with out the cameras.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:58am

    Re: Note to self: Never move to Lancaster, PA

    On one hand, I agree, since unpaid volunteers gave access to the system, it is more open to abuse. That part IS an issue, I think.

    But again, the law has been very clear in cases where police have observed illegal activity or substances through open windows or doors.

    If the activity is observable from a public space, and the occupant/owner has made no effort to block that view, it is not a violation of privacy.

    If you KNOW someone - a neighbor or an often observed runner or walker - that regularly walks by your window and takes the opportunity to peek as they walk by - is that a violation of privacy?

    No, cause you have the opportunity to place window coverings to block the view.

    Same with that camera. Don't like it? Use the shades or curtains. During the day, that will be less of an issue due to lighting conditions.

    At night, close the dang shades, I really don't want to see what you're doing in your bedroom or living room!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    stat_insig (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:58am

    Google streetview

    So Google Streetview is good, but video cameras bad?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:00am

    Being a paranoid type I ask questions about why this is being done.

    If one controls the cameras does that mean that if someone else does something suspicious then that person is by definition a criminal while if one of the watchers does the same thing they are one of the good guys.

    If a person dressed as a carpenter drives up to a house and proceeds to remove the front window is that person committing a crime?

    Is this the home owner returning home locked out of his house? Is it a burglar breaking in? Is it a repair man replacing the window or not?

    If it is the owner repairing his window do the police have the right to shoot him for this or charge him with breaking in entering? Not an idle question as when I was living in Florida a black dude setting on his own couch in his living room with his door open, it is hot there in the summer with no AC, was shot and killed because he had a gun which turned out to be the cell telephone he was talking on.

    I for one believe that the only reason a store puts up a camera is to ketch people ripping off the store while all at the same time the management of the store is ripping off the customers by any means possible. One of these deals where what ever you do you are guilty and what ever I do you are guilty and I am innocent and here is the proof of your crimes but since I am one of the good guy there is no recording of what I do only of what you do and I say it is wrong and here is the proof.

    The one thing I do know is that this may stop crime in their city... And commerce with people going to some other place where they feel safe from the local Klan to do business. Preferable some place far far away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:05am

    The only ones that will even be interested in doing monitoring are the annoying nosy type.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:33am

    Haha

    "There's nothing wrong with instilling fear."

    Holy card-carrying Republican, Batman!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    hmmmmmm, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:41am

    exactly

    The person living in this town said there have already been problems with peoples houses being in site of the camera... That to me is a no go... Even if it couldn't see in my windows, it shouldn't even be looking at my yard.

    You all can say "it only hurts the criminals" as much as you want. But the real issue here is the private areas that end up on camera and Joe from across the street can look in my window or get upset because he saw his Ex Wife coming in my front door...

    At what point do we lose privacy everywhere because "its safer" for everyone to be on camera at all times.

    Here in Chicago there are cameras at almost every intersection and the city makes literally millions of dollars a year from people turning right on red when they are not supposed to. Yet a high number of tickets are thrown out because the person actually did everything legal but the camera was smart enough to figure it out. So then the person with the false ticket has to take time out of their day to challenge the ticket, or just pay it because it cost less than their lost time. Why should law abiding citizens have to deal with the inconveniences of this when the only positive thing to come from it is that the city makes some money and "criminals" can't make right turns on a red light.

    The intersection scenario is just an example of how these types of cameras can cause problems for everyday people doing everything legally. And we shouldn't have to put up with it

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    ChrisB (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re:

    I think this is a great idea. I've always thought that the only way to go to the next level is to crowdsource everything.

    Keep the government in check? Make everything open and there will always be some keener willing to pour over the data and look for suspicious spending, etc.

    I'll give you a perfect example. There was a huge cheating scandal on the poker site Absolute Poker. It was found because player statistics (e.g., how often people fold, raise, call) was made public. Some people crunched the numbers and found that a few accounts had win rates that were way outside statistical norms. It was discovered these people had software that allowed them to see other peoples cards (it was an inside job). The official story was they were former employees who outwitted the new owners, and a "sophisticated" security system.

    No security system is better than just making all the data public and letting the public do the security. The future is crowdsourcing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Re: exactly

    "At what point do we lose privacy everywhere because "its safer" for everyone to be on camera at all times."

    Yesterday.

    "Here in Chicago there are cameras at almost every intersection and the city makes literally millions of dollars a year from people turning right on red when they are not supposed to."

    Hopefully you meant every streetlight intersection, which is actually only something like 15% of Chicago intersections. If you think there are cameras on those stop signs at 57th and Kostner, you're crazy.

    "So then the person with the false ticket has to take time out of their day to challenge the ticket, or just pay it because it cost less than their lost time."

    C'mon, that doesn't really happen THAT often, and defending in such cases really is just a part of life. Not to mention, for all my problems with the Chicago system of government, the Chicago courts have been rather exemplary of getting these things RIGHT. They toss out the cases all the time, and the way they've handled the private parking meter cases has been OUTSTANDING.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    CmdrOberon, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re:

    > Yes, it's a public area, but we're talking about gov't
    > controlled surveillance equipment, put in the hands of
    > untrained "volunteer" citizens with the power to call the
    > police instantly?

    I don't disagree with you on this topic, but it doesn't
    take gov't equipment to allow a nosey or
    vindictive person to drop a dime* on anyone.

    For example, I had been living at a house for about a year
    and some odd neighbor suddenly decided that the house had
    been empty for a long, long time and that I obviously
    didn't belong there. They called the cops. The cops
    came and knocked on the door in the middle of the night.

    No gov't sponsorship of this mostly unobservant neighbor,
    but they had no problem calling the cops.

    *Is 'drop a dime' too old to use yet?

    > That's not at all the same as a private company taking
    > street photos that show up online months later.

    It is the same. It's public. You can't use
    argue both sides and claim it's ok for private
    companies to do something, but not ok for the gov't to
    do the same thing. I believe both should not be doing it.

    And, the ability for abuse is the same.
    What if the gov't starts pays people to troll street view
    for what they believe to be criminal behavior? Would that
    be ok?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: Re: what issues?

    There is a lot of difference when you go from "small potential of being observed" to "100% chance of being observed".

    When I'm in a public place, I don't expect that my every move is being followed. Yes, it *could* be, but I don't expect (or want) it to be.

    Should there be cameras running in public washrooms?
    Should there be cameras running in public swimming pools? Underwater ones?

    Would you be comfortable with having police officers at points in public places so that every single thing you do can be observed? Sounds to me like something you might experience in places like Iran or China. So why would you want that same experience in Pennsylvania?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Robert, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: my story

    This is completely different. The cameras are fixed on a public location (in a private community) and completely disclosed.

    It's a whole other story if someone can take that same camera and point it at a young girls bedroom and record it... paid by tax dollars.

    This is Apples and oranges.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:57am

    Re: spying?

    i wouldn't, because i'd probably be rich if someone cared that much to get my picture.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But why does the government have a battery of cameras in the first place?

    What is the stated, targeted purpose of those cameras?

    What is being done to ensure the cameras are meeting their purpose?

    What is being done to determine whether any adverse effects are occurring?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is a difference from casual observations by police and/or citizens vs. continual wide-spread monitoring (with the potential of recording).

    There is a difference between a snapshot in time of a public location vs. recording of all time of that same location.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:06am

    George Orwell was right

    As evidenced by the many inferior people posting here who don't recognize the threat posed by ubiquitous surveillance. Pity it's not possible to simply confine THEM to the hell that they so fervently support.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:08am

    Re: given that there are not privacy concerns

    Just what is the benefit of all these convoluted surveillance systems?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:12am

    Re: Very little debate?

    Cameras are (poor) a band-aid solution to the problem you are stating. Catching crimes as they occur and putting people into the penal system does not reduce crime.

    Sounds to me like your government officials don't really want to put the necessary resources into fixing the actual causes of gangs in your city.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Philipp Mueller (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    sovereignty 2.0 (crowdsourcing the Texan Border Control)

    your story reminds me of a story from last december, where BlueServo put up cameras on the Texan border that are watched by "Virtual Texas DeputiesSM." More at:

    http://www.philippmueller.de/crowdsourcing-the-border-patrol-sovereignty-20/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Google streetview

    A snapshot in time vs. continual wide-spread recorded surveillance? Surely you see the difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Beta, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:24am

    image of the future

    Imagine cameras all over every public space, all their feeds available to the public and retained forever. Cameras pointing at every window and door, character recog that allows you to track specific cars, facial recog that allows you to track anyone who doesn't wear a mask. Anyone who developes an interest in you can, with a few keystrokes, construct a complete video log of all your comings and goings, past and present, and you won't know it. Whenever you step out the door (or past an unblinded window) you are on camera. If you commit little crimes like speeding, or little indiscretions by a fountain (or at home with the curtains open), you will never know when they'll come back to haunt you.

    This is coming. There is simply no good way to prevent it. There will be abuses, and for a time the authorities will try to be the only ones who get to commit them (e.g. the police will track you without a warrant because, hey, you're in public, but if you track them it's a crime because, well, because).

    Questions of "expectation of privacy" aside, there is a profound value in being able to walk around and feel unwatched. There is a profound freedom in being able to jaywalk now and then with real impunity, to not worry about every little thing in the past. That's what we're losing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: what issues?

    If you think your movements are not observed on a daily basis in any big city, think again. You ARE being observed, ALL the time.

    To be honest, I'd like there to be a cop on every corner. Life would be safer. I'm not a criminal, I don't run around doing things that are illegal, or questionable, or even slightly off color. I'm a pretty boring guy, in that respect!

    My life, as I conduct myself in public, is open to scrutiny, and I've NEVER been afraid for a cop, any cop, to watch my movements as part of his job, as I casually encounter them on a daily basis. Usually, they ignore me, unless I run a red light, or speed or something similar.

    I couldn't care less if there were cops around almost every corner, I'd feel safer, to be honest. but I know that for budgetary reasons, not a city on earth can afford that level of official scrutiny.

    Would I feel uncomfortable in a totalitarian society with that level of observation? Sure, who wouldn't? But we have Constitutional protections to shield us from abuse, at least after the fact.

    Our laws allow the government, or anyone else, to observe, either directly or via electronic means, any public space. There is NO expectation of privacy there. NONE.

    In addition, your movements may be tracked by the government, if they have evidence of possible illegal activity. It's called probable cause. So they can do that NOW. At any time, electronically or in person.

    So there is a difference between observation and surveillance. Observation is simply watching an area for publicly observable illegal activity. Surveillance is tracking specific individuals or groups to directly observe illegal activity.

    I have no trouble with either, as long as they are being conducted according to the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:31am

    OK FACTS: Cameras do little to nothing to prevent crime.
    They allow an intrusive record of my actions in public, regardless of whether they are legally open to such record keeping. I don't want my actions recorded and documented like I'm a lab animal. If you do, you probably have some turn-on or comfort from being recorded, thinking somehow it will keep you safer, which study after study has shown to be BS. I'm not going to do the research, but spend a few seconds searching the internet. Have a good day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:34am

    Am I the only one young (read: stupid) enough to remember the impulse to rebel slightly, fork a lawn, steal a roadsign, hop in a car with 2 friends and drive for 30 minutes (two towns away) to throw tide (or bubble bath) into a city fountain to watch it bubble over?

    I know the first thing I would steal/vandalize/black out/generally mess around with (if I was still prone to such bored antics) would be those cameras, provided of course that I lived there.

    Great idea actually. I would have had a bunch of my friends gather up fireworks and airsoft guns, right them up to look decently real (pull the trigger and a small flare pops up, not to hard to do with a little bit of powder from fireworks) on a closed circuit camera, and stage an all out "shootout" on a street. Just in case the cops showed up first, claim there was someone filming it (or have someone film it) and claim it was for a school/film project.

    I love all the new chances children have to buck authority these days, and am simply sad some of them didn't exist when I was a teenager.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As long as that observation is being done in a public space, what's the issue?

    It isn't illegal, is it? Your privacy is NOT being violated, because in public, you have NO expectation of any privacy at all.

    So what is the problem? What is that difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OK FACTS: Cameras do little to nothing to prevent crime.
    They allow an intrusive record of my actions in public, regardless of whether they are legally open to such record keeping. I don't want my actions recorded and documented like I'm a lab animal. If you do, you probably have some turn-on or comfort from being recorded, thinking somehow it will keep you safer, which study after study has shown to be BS. I'm not going to do the research, but spend a few seconds searching the internet. Have a good day.



    ARE YOU BLIND OR A TROLL? PEOPLE HAVE ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION, APPARENTLY YOU'RE JUST AN IDIOT.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    Re:

    No, cameras don't, but increased police enforcement does. That is what these cameras allow the police to do, increase their presence more cheaply than putting a cop on every corner.

    The recordings allow for evidence to be used against perpetrators in court.

    On the other hand, if you think any city has the storage space to KEEP all this stuff indefinitely, then you don't have a clue as to what that storage costs!

    These kinds of observation systems use tape, and the tape is rotated on a periodic basis, to save money on tape and storage. They rarely keep it longer than a month, unless it is being used for evidence in a criminal case.

    Believe me, nobody has the personnel to watch this stuff all the time, even with these volunteers. That's what the tape is for. If a crime is reported, the tapes for that period and location get pulled and looked at. Otherwise, the tape is rotated back into the queue and used again, where the data is overwritten.

    This is a lot of hoopla for nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Stalking/Harrassment by individuals is bad, but as a group it's A-OK right? I'll make sure and get a group of my neighbors together and follow your wife in the grocery store next time. She doesn't have an expectation of privacy in public right? No big deal right?? I'm glad you like the government up your ass, and it feels sooo good....I don't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:59am

    rwahrens: Let's play a game it's called stupid. Here's how it's played..you put words into other people's mouths and make assumptions after you're called out on your blatent grab and see-through excuse for a police state. Never mind..I see you've played this game before. You win stupid.

    "No, cameras don't, but increased police enforcement does"

    Right. Your assertion that cameras on corners monitored by untrained citizens equal a police presence is laughable.
    As an example, there is a street camera video that came out a few years back from a major city. The camera dutifully recorded someone being killed after being robbed. It didn't pull a gun and stop the perpetrator. They SOMETIMES allow evidence to be used after the fact in a crime. SOMETIMES. Most of the time, the perpetrator isn't easily identified, because the low resolution makes these cameras next to useless. Your assertion that these cameras are equivalent to a police officer on the corner is false. 100 % PROVABLY FALSE. I never said anything about how long the tape is kept. I did say either way I don't like the lab rat status.
    By the way...LOL. What an efficient way to use resources. Relying on an untrained citizen volunteer to determine what tapes MIGHT be important so they can be reviewed later. What a joke. Nice standard right? Try again stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:01am

    Re: spying?

    Paparazzi do this to celebrities all the time. As long as they follow the laws they don't get thrown in jail and famous people just have to live with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:01am

    Re: image of the future

    Where do you suppose anybody is going to get the money, space, equipment and personnel to actually staff, update, maintain, this equipment and system, PLUS store the resulting data?

    Obviously, you have no clue as to how much space, even electronic data, uses for permanent storage.

    East Germany was as close as anybody has ever gotten to what you describe, and they never could watch everybody. That is impossible, even with cameras.

    Modern surveillance systems use tape, cause it is cheaper than digital storage. Tape is rotated, so you don't need either as much tape or storage space.

    What you describe is never going to happen, cause the means is not available, either as equipment nor the personnel to staff such a system.

    Don't like being watched? Then you'll have to be a hermit, people have ALWAYS been watched, they're just doing it electronically now. Not a shred of difference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re:

    Your utopian outlook includes the idea that police are looking out for your better interest. Maybe they currently are.

    However, there are crooked cops, and there are crooked leaders.

    The problem is not now, when everything seems to be going your way. The problem is that you are allowing the infrastructure to be set up, with little understanding of actual benefit, that can slowly be turned against you.

    Most cultures do not undergo sudden revolutions. They slowly migrate. Change is expected and dissolution of fundamental rights is non-obvious.

    I am not against the progress of society or technology. But I am against government-driven change that does not have a clear definition of purpose, metrics that ensure those purposes are being met and that the negative side effects are minimized (if not entirely avoided).

    You say "this is a lot of hoopla for nothing". That attitude is EXACTLY the problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Oh by the way, there's lot of research that being monitored eventually shapes and changes behavior. So yes, I'm against this type of monitoring for all sorts of reasons, including because I am against creating a climate of fear, and entering a surveillance society. Anyone who supports this has no understanding of the underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence. NONE. My persuit of happiness includes not being recorded at every point of my life. Take your police state and shove it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Oh by the way, there's lot of research that being monitored eventually shapes and changes behavior. So yes, I'm against this type of monitoring for all sorts of reasons, including because I am against creating a climate of fear, and entering a surveillance society. Anyone who supports this has no understanding of the underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence. NONE. My persuit of happiness includes not being recorded at every point of my life. Take your police state and shove it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Oh by the way, there's lot of research that being monitored eventually shapes and changes behavior. So yes, I'm against this type of monitoring for all sorts of reasons, including because I am against creating a climate of fear, and entering a surveillance society. Anyone who supports this has no understanding of the underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence. NONE. My persuit of happiness includes not being recorded at every point of my life. Take your police state and shove it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Sorry for the repeats. So your best argument is that since they can only monitor most of the people it's OK? You really are pathetic. You also have untrained, non-LE doing the surveillance, which makes it an extremely inefficient and wasteful use of resources. Keep beating that dead horse of yours however, you seem to have convinced yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    NOW who's putting word in people's mouths? I never said this specific system in PA is the equivalent to cops on the corner. Nobody ever said these systems are perfect.

    Of course, pictures don't always prove a crime, people often are dressed in concealing clothes, and there have been plenty of cases where video didn't help convict anybody at all.

    But that doesn't mean that they are useless in all cases. Each system must be judged by how they are installed and how the owner intends to use it. Procedures are as important as technical specs.

    Yes, I agree with those who say that this system staffed by volunteers is less than "kosher". Volunteers, of course, won't be trained to recognize a crime, first of all. That's why a really good system must have sworn, trained police officers available to be able to make that determination.

    IF the system is even intended to extend the police presence that way.

    It may be just for evidence sake, in which case, you point about how useful it is is a good one, depending on its resolution and clarity.

    As for the camera resolution, the article doesn't say, these particular ones could be very good, some systems are. But many are just crap, in which case, I would question the usefulness of the whole dang system.

    My point is that these systems are not illegal, they serve useful purposes when used correctly and installed as intended by the manufacturer.

    All of that is, of course, subject to the circumstances of each individual case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:21am

    So to summarize:

    * Cameras fail to lower/prevent crime

    *Cameras are not the equivalent of a police officer on every corner

    *Cameras are of generally of such low quality has to be marginally helpful at best in the identification of a suspect/vehicle.

    *These systems do not pass a basic cost/savings analysis.

    *This particular system is inefficient/unreliable due to non-LE personnel

    *By opponents own admission, the live feeds are not reliable, due to the volume, even with professionally trained LE personnel

    *These camera systems influence shape/behavior and promote an environment of fear for law abiding citizens

    *Given all of the above facts, the best argument is that they can only be used in such a wasteful, inefficient, fearful, non-crime prevention manner against a limited number of citizens.

    Sounds like a solid grounds to pay for the cameras right?

    Oh wait...never mind....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    No, my argument is that these systems, when used according to manufacturer's specs, and done according to the law, can be useful tools.

    As I noted, the recordings are never kept for long, in MOST cases, sworn police are used to monitor the systems, and there at least should be protections to ensure that they are not abused, even while they ARE kept.

    that is how I think this article should have been focussed.

    Not on the public observation aspect, but on the policies and procedures behind the system.

    I agree that volunteers are a problem. Not only since they are untrained, but because in monitoring the system, they have access to the recordings, and THAT opens the system up for abuse. What protections are there to lock up those recordings so copies can't be made? Is the location secured from unauthorized personnel? So who has access?

    THESE are much more important than your fear of being seen scratching your ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:26am

    YOU SAID "That is what these cameras allow the police to do, increase their presence more cheaply than putting a cop on every corner."

    THESE cameras, meaning these types of cameras. You didn't say NOT the cameras in PA, so actually in the context, my reading of your statement is the correct one. Sorry. You just suck at this whole logic thing. Try again. You were using the above argument to defend this case. Then when I point out how you are wrong, you try and say you weren't talking about the case being discussed, but defending other systems not in the article. In that case, you're comments make no sense. TRY AGAIN.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:33am

    THESE are much more important than your fear of being seen scratching your ass.


    That I don't fear. What I do fear is systems with NO practical LE value (despite your assertions, study after study says BS) and which actually cost more than they provide in actual savings and value for LE, being deployed with little practical oversight from LE. Even with direct LE supervision,these systems are a waste of time and money from any logical fact based analysis. I'm not going to point out the facts further to a willfully ignorant person.
    So go peddle your cameras systems elsewhere. Your either mininformed and misguided LE, or a shill for the cameras companies, or just truely an ignorant fool. Good day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re: George Orwell was right

    Nice combination of ad hominem, FUD, and unfounded assertions. Throw in some ideological ranting and you could just be the perfect poster!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is a solution to your problem.

    Change the law. Currently, the law allows what is happening. If you don't like it, take your own advice and change it!

    I have noted below that my point here is that the system in the article is legal, and Mike's concerns about the surveillance of a public space is unwarranted, since it is legal.

    I DO have concerns, and the article should have focussed on, the procedures, policies and practices that are being used. Yes, using volunteers is an issue. Yes, how the footage may be used is a concern. Yes, protection of that footage and the usage of the system is a major concern.

    It isn't the SYSTEM itself, but HOW it is used that you are concerned with, and rightfully so.

    Part of the answer is education. People need to know more about how it is designed.

    How is the data stored? How long is it stored for? What are the physical protections for access to it? What are the policies that drive that physical protection? What are the policies that drive its use?

    If you don't like the answers to those questions, then change the law and make the things illegal which bother you. That is how the system we live under works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:43am

    @Sneeje: Point out where I'm unfounded in my assertions, and you'll be correct. Just because an attack is ad hominem doesn't make it false. I prefer a combination of ad hominem AND logic. Have a great day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:58am

    surveillance of a public space is unwarranted, since it is legal.


    @rwahrens: I agree with you about the law needing change, but you are making a fundamentally incorrect assumption.
    That the act of the placing of cameras is legal, doesn't negate any legitimate concerns abouts public surveillance.
    In fact, the very reason the law needs to be changed is due to these legitimate concerns, mission creep, abuse, change in public behavior. Read the article. The police chief himself calls it something out of 1984. Just because it is technically feasible to do public surveillance, and legal, doesn't mean it should be done, or that it should be. So the article is rightly focused on BOTH aspects. The system works how the people decide it works. The people that need to be informed are the citizens who made up the council approving the cameras.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 11:03am

    Re:

    See, *this* I agree with. I don't really buy into the privacy concerns mainly because all of the examples of the potential slippery slope dystopian future are not useful to have this discussion because they are so cartoonish and extreme.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 11:59am

    Re:

    As I said, your problem is with the purpose and operation of the system. thus, you need to look at the law, because that law allows such surveillance, as it is written.

    So change the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    Wrong, ad hominem attacks are used by those with little argument left to make their case, thus to attack the messenger is all that is left. It is the mark of a lazy debater.

    If you have evidence to support your assertion that camera systems make little difference, cite them so we can evaluate your evidence. Otherwise, the assertions mean little.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    icon
    ChrisB (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    "I am against creating a climate of fear, and entering a surveillance society. Anyone who supports this has no understanding of the underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence."

    Within 10 years, everyone will carry personal recording devices (e.g., in your glasses, on a necklace or bracelet, in your watch) that will record audio and video on everything they do, everyday, with GPS included. The surveillance society is coming, the question is who controls the data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    you have evidence to support your assertion that camera systems make little difference..

    I told you google it...sigh...


    There are countless studies, including one embedded in this blog post. I'm not going to do your research for you.
    PS. If a person is an idiot, they're going to be called on it by me. You may not like the fact that you are an idiot, but it doesn't change that fact. Have a great day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    Sigh. I really should let this go, but can't... help... myself...

    "many inferior people" = ad hominem; attack on the person, not the argument.

    "threat posed by ubiquitous surveillance" = unfounded assertion; this is open to debate and has no evidence provided by you to support it, therefore it is unfounded. I never said it was not true, just simply an assertion/opinion on your part for which you provided no evidence.

    "Pity it's not possible to simply confine THEM to the hell that they so fervently support." = ad hominem, FUD, and unfounded assertion; see prior, whether or not it will be hell is open to debate and may be a matter of opinion.

    I actually see no application of logic in your original post--you concluded that everyone here that disagrees with the privacy concerns was inferior with no explanation of why and then made a proposal. There was no specific logic used other than perhaps making a number of implicit assumptions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    This would be an interesting demographics study. Mike should put up a poll to see what age group the people who have no problem with cameras are in.

    My hypothesis is that the majority of people with no aversion to cameras are in the gen y age group or younger. People who have been raised with baby monitors, gps tracking bracelets, getting their photo and fingerprints taken at the police station for "safety cards", helicopter parents watching their every move, etc. Basically people raised with no expectation of privacy....ever. Also with a biased/slanted education on our constitution and the idea that being a good citizen is towing the govn't line, e.g. never questioning warrantless wiretaps, and that cops should need to worry about pesky things such as warrants for searches. The "if you don't have anything to hide" argument that's become so prevalent these days.

    It's too bad we raised a generation of govn't stooges who are unable or afraid to be outside of a camera's lens for more than a few minutes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    14 August 2002, England: CCTV 'not a crime deterrent.' Critics say effectiveness of CCTV is "overstated".

    CCTV is not as useful in the fight against crime as was previously thought, according to government research. The cameras, which have been placed at the heart of crime prevention policy, may be more effective as a detection tool than as a deterrent, researchers found. The report - which looked at evaluations of 22 CCTV schemes in Britain and the US - found that while cameras could have a marked effect on reducing vehicle crime, there was little evidence they prevented violent crime. Spending on CCTV accounts for three-quarters of the money available for crime prevention. Some 170 million Pounds Sterling has been allocated to them for the period 1999-2003.

    The Home Office-commissioned report said: "Overall, it can be concluded that CCTV reduces crime to a small degree. An evidence-based approach to crime prevention which uses the highest level of science available offers the strongest formula for building a safer society."

    http://www.notbored.org/cameras-not-effective.html

    19 October 2003, Scotland, CCTV proves "useless" in fight against shoplifting by Jenifer Johnston.

    http://www.notbored.org/cameras-not-effective.html

    CCTV 'no answer to street fights'

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3339133.stm


    14 April 2004, Melbourne, Australia: City crime cameras face the axe by Royce Millar.

    Melbourne City Council last night voted to dump its network of 23 security cameras after councillors argued the cameras had failed miserably to prevent crime. Greens councillor David Risstrom led the charge against the cameras and said the half a million dollars they cost each year would be better spent on police presence. "This system is costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, yet all of the research shows that the cameras don't make people safe in the city, nor do they deter crime," he said. Cr Risstrom successfully called for the suspension of the camera network at a meeting of the council's safety and health committee.

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/13/1081838728290.html


    24 February 2005, Leceistershire, England: CCTV systems 'fail to cut crime' by BBC News.

    Most CCTV fails to cut crime or make people feel safer, according to a research study. Experts at the University of Leicester studied 14 systems across the country on behalf of the Home Office. They found only one area saw a drop in the number of incidents which could be attributed to CCTV. Professor Martin Gill, from the university, said: "Overall, areas have encountered real difficulties in using CCTV to good effect."

    CCTV systems 'fail to cut crime'
    Most CCTV fails to cut crime or make people feel safer, according to a research study.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/leicestershire/4294693.stm

    Please STFU.Have a great day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    PS. I used foreign links because the UK has one of the largest systems in the world, and their system uses LE supervision. The search on Yahoo took under 30 seconds.
    Now is my ad hominem attack justified? I think so IDIOT.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    "Now is my ad hominem attack justified? I think so IDIOT." Hardly, you're spending so much time trying to prove you're smarter than everyone else you haven't really understood why people disagree with you (other than the childish and mean-spirited attacks).

    I certainly don't disagree with CCTVs being a giant waste of resources, I said as much in my original post--what I disagreed with was that the widespread use of such would result in some kind of terrible and hellish future. The leap from here to there is far too great and has to assume no counter-incentives which is why I also don't buy the slippery-slope argument.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    @Sneeje: OK, Is this better?

    Dear sir,

    The line between the present and some hellish future is at least in part a personal decision (as to when this line has been crossed). It also, IMHO, is a lot thinner a gap than people care to acknowledge. I think the very act of a town implementing such an abomination of a plan,with little to no scietific LE value, simply adds to the legitimacy of such systems being implemented MORE. It is more death by a thousand pin pricks in my view than an ice-pick through the head, that threatens democracy (I prefer to picture democracy as a living being for this excercise, bear with me please). You're of course entitled to your opinion, I just happen to think you are wrong. The evidence is there for the ineffectiveness and wasteful nature of these type of surviellence systems. The slippery slope argument is harder to prove empirically, but that doesn't mean it isn't a valid critique as well. Look to the UK, and if you look closely, that is one nicely greased slope they have going on there. This doesn't mean it will happen in places with valid Constitutions, but IT IS starting to. Exhibit A is this article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 2:51pm

    From the article:
    A few dozen people attended four community meetings held last spring to discuss what sponsors called "this exciting public safety initiative." But opposition has grown since big red bulbs, which shield the video cameras, began appearing on corner after corner.

    Mary Pat Donnellon, head of Mission Research, a local software company, vowed to move if she finds one on her block. "I don't want to live like that," she said. "I'm not afraid. And I don't need to be under surveillance."

    "No one has the right to know who goes in and out my front door," agreed David Mowrer, a laborer for a company that supplies quarry pits. "That's my business. That's not what America is about."

    WADR, Sneeje, it looks like hellish future is in the eye of the beholder. Like when law abiding citizens start to feel uncomfortable in their daily lives, because some random person is tracking their action. How about this?

    Some unscrupulous person gets through the "screening process" and let's a criminal friend no when someone has left their house, so they are free to burglarize it. Think that's nuts? Is that far fetched? I don't think so...blind faith in a government beauracracy is suicidial. Embracing programs like this is simply giving yourself the razor blades...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:44pm

    One question...

    and its an old one ...In Lancaster "who watches the watchers?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    Crabby, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: what issues?

    What do we have when half of the citizens watch the other half? A police state. This isn't security, it's perversion and invasion of privacy. Even in a public space you have the right to your personal space -- the diner at the next table does not have the right to tape your dinner conversation just because you are in a restaurant.

    Just think, if your neighbor has an issue with you, you'd better watch out because you might end up on camera in a compromising situation. And we know the camera never lies (wink wink...). I'm crossing Lancaster off of my places to visit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what issues?

    "To be honest, I'd like there to be a cop on every corner. Life would be safer. "

    You are joking, aren't you? The police behave like a**holes around here; you want a city crawling with them? When the "criminals" are gone from the scene, you can bet someone is going to fill in and take over those roles. And when you're left with a whole lot of police with nothing to do, they'll start to pick on people for relatively minor issues until they eventually turn into bullies. Absolute power corrupts. Always. No matter the original intent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    identicon
    Crabby, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    Re: spying?

    "Would any of you tell someone to piss off if they were to follow you around with a video camera in public?"

    Yes! I've told people in the bookstore to stop following me, and I've told a guy on the street to stop harassing me, and I told a loudmouth on the Metro to turn his volume down on his mouth. I would have no issue telling someone to stop photographing or filming me! And I would have no issues with backing up the request with something a little more concrete... because I've had to do it before. I do defend myself and my rights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    Crabby, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Excellent post, mobiGeek.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    identicon
    Glenn, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 2:38am

    Afraid of being seen in public?

    Never leave your home. (Agoraphobia ain't new.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:12am

    Re:

    No, sorry, learn to read.

    I wasn't defending "this" case, but the use of them in general. I endorse the use of observation systems as a way of increasing the police presence in areas that need that presence, as long as the systems are used properly, i.e., use sworn police to monitor for real crime, protect the content against abuse and/or unauthorized use or release, and ensure that they only cover public areas. I don't have to specifically SAY that only covers other cases. Look at the circumstances of the instant case and you can readily see the differences.

    I have mentioned time and again in my posts to this article that the use of volunteers is a problem, precisely because it violates the principles I just mentioned.

    I note again that if you don't like the idea of a general surveillance system covering public areas, launch a movement to change the constitution to make that illegal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:18am

    Re:

    No, YOU are making the assertion, and need to PROVE it. I don't need to do the research to prove YOUR assertion!

    You are making the statement that there are studies to support your claims.

    Prove it by posting links to them. If you have read them, you know where they are and can easily link to them to prove to us doubters.

    If you do not, the assumption here is that you are coming up empty and have nothing to back up your claims.

    Again, here you go with the ad hominem attacks, proving, once again, that you have no argument other than your own opinion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:24am

    Re:

    And your search found NEWS stories about places dumping these systems, NOT "studies" you assert prove your point.

    More opinions.

    Link to the studies, not secondary assertions by other people. That way, it is merely hearsay and not proof.

    So, again, here is your ad hominem attack covering up your insecurity.

    Have a nice day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:27am

    Re:

    "WADR, Sneeje, it looks like hellish future is in the eye of the beholder. Like when law abiding citizens start to feel uncomfortable in their daily lives, because some random person is tracking their action. How about this?"

    So get these people together and start a movement to change the law!

    (and sworn LE personnel manning systems are not random. Agreed, the "volunteers" fit that description tho. So fix the system.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    identicon
    Beta, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Re: image of the future

    rwahrens: "Obviously, you have no clue as to how much space, even electronic data, uses for permanent storage... East Germany was as close as anybody has ever gotten to what you describe, and they never could watch everybody. That is impossible, even with cameras."

    Oh yes, permanent storage certainly did cost a lot back then. The DDR ceased to exist in 1990, the Stasi kept most of their records on paper (what we now call "hard copy") and today I could probably carry 10,000 of their infamous dossiers in my pocket, on a device that costs less than a good shirt. And we have digital cameras now, orders of magnitude smaller and cheaper than the sophisticated film cameras they used in the workers' paradise.

    Thank you for bringing up the enormous (and ongoing) advances in information technology, the vast increases in power, the plummetting size and cost. It's a tremendous point in my favor, and I wish I'd thought to mention it myself.

    (As for not having the staffing to actually watch everyone, you completely missed the point of my post.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:34am

    @rwahrens: The studies are referenced within the news story.
    If you question the validity of the reporting from both Scotland Yard (direct sources-see the links) and the reporting from the BBC news (secondary source-direct source linked) then you are an idiot.That means you fit the definition:

    Noun 1. idiot - a person of subnormal intelligence.

    You didn't click on the links. If you had you would see that countless STUIDES done in a SCIENTIFIC manner are linked to, not just stories, but actual research! Your very response proves beyond a shadow of a doubt you DID NOT check the links, you are a liar, and most importantly, you have no buisness in actual debate.

    Liar Noun 1. liar - a person who has lied or who lies repeatedly

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:39am

    @rwahrens:


    You said "And your search found NEWS stories about places dumping these systems, NOT "studies" you assert prove your point.

    More opinions.

    Link to the studies, not secondary assertions by other people"

    You said the above after I had quoted "Most CCTV fails to cut crime or make people feel safer, according to a research study. Experts at the University of Leicester studied 14 systems across the country on behalf of the Home Office. They found only one area saw a drop in the number of incidents which could be attributed to CCTV. Professor Martin Gill, from the university, said: "Overall, areas have encountered real difficulties in using CCTV to good effect"

    This is a UNIVERSITY study by a PROFESSOR. The study was done on behalf of the GOVERNMENT of England, which operates one of the most expansive systems in the world.

    YOU are the one who can't read you illiterate POS. GAME OVER.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: image of the future

    Like I said, you don;t understand the implications of the costs of KEEPING digital or taped data safe in long term storage!

    That cute little USB dongle flash drive? Don't try to keep that data there as long term storage, you'll lose it in a heartbeat, the first time a god static charge hits it. Your data will be toast!

    Long term storage of data (and MOST surveillance systems use tape) is an expensive proposition.

    It takes huge amounts of power, air conditioning to cool those drives, special construction to allow for both of these, and permanent IT personnel to keep it all maintained. Tape storage must be climate controlled, and both digital and taped data needs good physical security to protect it from theft or other unauthorized access.

    So, contrary to your assertions, which expose your ignorance of the subject, such storage is NOT cheap, takes huge amounts of both power and space, and frankly is a deterrent to the kind of over-arching surveillance you and anon12 are afraid of.

    It will never happen, because we just can't STORE all the data we could collect. The best we can do is watch for current activity and store a month or so for evidentiary purposes in case of a reported crime.

    You complain of the costs of such systems NOW? Try permanently storing data for any length of time and you'll change your tune fast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    So why can't you link to his study? You assert that there are numerous studies, LINK to the STUDIES, not news stories or other people's descriptions of them!

    And again, more ad hominem, can't you see how you are making yourself look bad?

    You have every right to your opinion, and that's fine. Declare it all you wish.

    But if you want to actually make a claim to something, you have to prove it with something besides just endlessly repeating that assertion. That proof is a link to that University study you cite, or to any of the countless others you say are there.

    YOU are the one making the claim that camera systems don't work.

    Prove it with something more than news stories with other people's opinions quoted.

    MY point is that the systems commonly used are legal, and are being used in common sense ways to monitor places where active police presence is not always possible. In other words, to extend that presence where possible. As with a live cop and his memory, that temporary taped data is there as evidence for use in cases where it may be useful.

    Yes, those systems must have strict controls over who has access to the system, who is allowed to monitor it, where and how that data is stored so that it can be used for legal, proper uses only.

    The instant case in Lancaster, as I have noted, is in trouble at least in part, because unsworn, untrained volunteers are being used as monitors, and it is being placed in areas where people do not see them as being useful.

    That is how our system works, the citizens will have their say, and if enough of the citizens of that town agree, the extra cameras will be removed. That is how it should be.

    My initial point here was that the article focused on something that was not an issue: the legality of the surveillance. It IS legal. Whether it is appropriate or not is an issue the citizens themselves in that town will eventually decide, and that is a matter of opinion.

    I have stated mine, you have stated yours. Great, that is also how it should be, but you have repeatedly attacked me and others personally as a debating tactic, and have failed to link to the evidence you assert exists.

    So far, it is your opinion vs. mine. I have stated my case, and have labeled it as my opinion, and make no assertions that require proof.

    If you insist doing so, then link to proof, not news.

    Otherwise, goodbye.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    @rwahrens: I quoted directly from the study. Directly. All you have to do is click your mouse. The links are embedded. You're feigned ignorance is obvious for all to see. I rest my case. Let's see, I've linked directly to the studies, and I've quoted from them, directly. Short of mailing the studies to you, or stuffing them through the computer screen, there's not much more I can do. You're either trolling, or just purposefully being asinine. Take your pick, as I said, I'm done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Here you are. Home Office Research Study 292.

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors292.pdf

    By the way, just to communicate one more thing:

    Your assertion is that news stories from the British Broadcasting Corporation and direct quotes from the lead author of a main study are insufficient, and that you need links to the actual studies. This is an excuse, a pathetic, and thinly vielded one at that, to just looking at the material I originally linked to. If your assertion is that the BBC is unreliable, or that the quotes are made up, then you are by definition, and idiot. If you know how to find this site, you know how to click a mouse and search for the original studies. Just because you REFUSE doesn't make those studies not exist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Here you are. Home Office Research Study 292.

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors292.pdf

    By the way, just to communicate one more thing:

    Your assertion is that news stories from the British Broadcasting Corporation and direct quotes from the lead author of a main study are insufficient, and that you need links to the actual studies. This is an excuse, a pathetic, and thinly vielded one at that, to just looking at the material I originally linked to. If your assertion is that the BBC is unreliable, or that the quotes are made up, then you are by definition, and idiot. If you know how to find this site, you know how to click a mouse and search for the original studies. Just because you REFUSE doesn't make those studies not exist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    @rwahrens: It's pretty clear your point of coming here was a disruption of the discussion, and to drag the conversation off topic. I now feel you either work for the town in question, or a camera system operator. Either way, you're, IMHO, the worst kind of scum, because you mostly suceeded. Either way, I should have just provided the links up front and then ignored you. I'll recognize the pattern for next time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:25pm

    Re:

    It would be easy for me to do the obvious thing and answer your desperate ad hominem attacks with my own, but I will not allow myself to be dragged down to your level.

    Instead, I will answer you by quoting your chosen study.

    From the section entitled "Conclusions: reflections on the effectiveness of CCTV":

    "It would be easy to conclude from the information presented in this report that CCTV is not effective: the majority of the schemes evaluated did not reduce crime and even where there was a reduction this was mostly not due to CCTV; nor did CCTV schemes make people feel safer, much less change their behaviour. That, however, would be too simplistic a conclusion, and for several reasons."

    "First, crime rates appeared to the authors to be a poor measure of the effectiveness of
    CCTV. The problem about measuring outcomes in terms of overall crime rates was that they disguised some important successes with particular types of offense."

    "Recorded crime rates were subject to a great deal of background noise from other factors, such as other crime reduction initiatives in the areas being studied, regional and national crime trends, and changes in methods of crime recording, any of which could mask the small impact that CCTV might have."

    "Indeed, on the streets, police officers and others including door-staff, were able to remind individuals that cameras were watching them as a way of increasing compliance. Similarly, police officers and the media point to the effectiveness of CCTV in high-profile cases, which are lost in overall crime figures. The importance of the crime-fighting role that CCTV plays in this way should not be underestimated."

    "Some weight should be attached to the retrospective use of CCTV images for evidential
    purposes. All schemes passed on some images (although only a few in some cases) to the
    police, which could be used to identify offenders or eliminate them from enquiries and to
    help in the investigation of incidents. Such images could be used either as evidence in court or to help extract a guilty plea, or to identify witnesses and victims at a scene of crime. This focus was outside the remit of the evaluation, but there was little doubt from comments made by the police interviewed, and from other research (Levesley and Martin, 2005; Gill and Hemming, 2004) that the police view was generally positive."

    "Cameras produce a lot of pictures and responding to and managing them will be a challenge for the future because this is labour-intensive work. Expectations here, on the part of the police and the public, need to be handled responsibly."

    NOTE:

    I would insert here that this comment backs up my contention that to fear future intensive surveillance is childish and a result of ignorance of how these systems work. I am reminded of the poster's comment above that one cannot have a society in which one half watches the other. That is exactly what such an intensive system would require!

    Back to the quotes:

    "However, systems have to be monitored properly or recordings made and stored properly; but the quality of this work varied considerably from one control room to another. Hence the researchers were often not evaluating carefully designed systems which addressed clearly defined crime and disorder problems, so much as failures of implementation."

    Conclusion:

    Again, this backs up my comments that the system in this instant case was not well implemented, and this should have been the focus of the article, as that implementation is critical to the ability of that system to meet the expectations of its owners.

    Your citing of this study, and your assertion that it backs up your point is critical to seeing that you did not READ this report, nor examine its conclusions. You simply took a quote from a news article and decided that it would meet your needs.

    It is obvious, further, that this subject is more complex than this article implies, and is not as clear cut as you would have us think. There are a lot of factors that affect the effectiveness of any observation or surveillance system, and any conclusions you make must take all of these into account, as the above quotes show.

    Please, next time you quote a study, READ it! It'll make you look much more intelligent.

    LOL!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 8:33am

    Hey the point is, you didn't read the study until I spoonfeed it to you. So whatever conclusions you reach from reading the study (a single study out of many-but you expect me to do your research for you right?), are pretty much irrelevant. I can take quotes out of context as well.
    The idea however that these systems are good at crime PREVENTION is still shown false by this study. You can argue all day about how good at identification these systems are, and using them for gathering evidence. You then have to look at the cost/benefits ratio, which you didn't address, and had you addressed it, you would find that these systems don't meet it vs. traditional police work (highering of an adequate number of officers. An officer on patrol is accountable for their actions, these systems and their operators are not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 10:23am

    "which could mask the small impact that CCTV might have."

    By the studies own conclusions, any impact had was small.
    You STILL lose, ad hominem attacks be damned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96.  
    icon
    rwahrens (profile), Jun 25th, 2009 @ 5:31pm

    Re:

    You are determined not to understand the nature of debate.

    I merely responded to the article with a comment regarding the fact that it focused on the surveillance and why I thought that was the wrong focus because such surveillance is legal.

    I further noted that these type systems, when properly designed and functioning under reasonable and legal guidelines can be useful tools for law enforcement.

    At no time did I assert that they would reduce crime to a significant degree. There is a difference. That is YOUR straw man that you used to "hijack" this thread, as you put it.

    You will recall that I also asked you to cite YOUR sources for YOUR assertions, which, after some attempts at posting news articles, you finally did. They were YOUR points, not mine, I am NOT responsible for researching the proof for someone else's debating claims!!

    My points were made as opinions, and not as provable claims, so I made no effort to prove anything. I didn't need to, that's my opinion, and not any kind of assertion of truth.

    But I looked at your citation, as you requested, and as I should have since I asked you for it.

    And found that your claims are simplistic, and are specifically disclaimed by the authors as a final and reasonable conclusion to the subject. This, in a study YOU cited!!

    Your debating technique has consisted of a constant stream of simple repetition, clumsy attempts at logic that have failed to make a coherent point and repetitive ad hominem attacks that prove only that you have no clue how to properly debate anything.

    I have looked at your "proof" and have found it wanting, and showed where and how it is diametrically opposed to your position as to the uselessness of CCTV systems.

    Go find another thread to hijack, I am finished with you and your poor manners. I will not return to witness your hysteric ad hominem postings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This