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State Legislators Discussing Laws That Will Put Law Enforcement Surveillance Cameras Inside Private Businesses

from the because-no-square-footage-can-go-unsurveilled dept

The government does enjoy installing cameras pretty much everywhere it can do so with a minimum of complaints. If it thinks there might be some controversy, it just buries the details until after the fact.

Eugene Volokh has a roundup of new places state governments are planning to install cameras — only the government won’t be buying the cameras… or maintaining them… or even installing them. That’s left to the private businesses these bills are pushing additional surveillance requirements on.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed an ordinance that would compel all gun dealers to video-record sales (“to discourage traffickers and buyers who use false identification”). Presumably the video recordings would have to be kept for an extended time, since future investigations that would use the video recordings could happen years after the sale. A similar New York state bill would require that the videos be kept for one year.

Likewise, two weeks ago, Minnesota enacted a law — with much less fanfare — that would require video- or photo recording of people who come to sell cellular phones, with each recording to be kept for at least 30 days

And all the government asks in return for its impositions is total, at-will access.

Minnesota’s bill targeting cell phone resellers stipulates this:

Recordings and images required by paragraph (a) shall be retained by the wireless communications device dealer for a minimum period of 30 days and shall at all reasonable times be open to the inspection of any properly identified law enforcement officer.

New York’s bill mandating surveillance in gun shops says this:

THE STORED IMAGES SHALL BE MAINTAINED AT THE PERMITTED BUSINESS LOCATION FOR A PERIOD NOT LESS THAN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF RECORDATION, AND SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR INSPECTION BY A POLICE OFFICER UPON REQUEST.

It’s not just phone and gun dealers. Minnesota’s scrap metal dealers are also included:

The scrap vehicle operator shall also photograph the seller’s vehicle, including license plate, either by video camera or still digital camera, so that an accurate and complete description of it may be obtained from the recordings made by the cameras. Photographs and recordings must be clearly and accurately associated with their respective records. Any video must be shown to law enforcement, upon request.

The problems with legislation like this are numerous. While many of these businesses may record these transactions for their own safety, being compelled to do so is a completely different matter, especially when it’s bundled with open, warrantless access by law enforcement.

Then there’s the issue of mission creep. Should these laws pass unaltered, the government will find itself unable to resist the pull of other businesses it feels are on the “sketchy” side, or that possibly cater to people who may have other, less legal habits.

I suspect that, especially if the gun sales videorecording bills are enacted, similar laws will be proposed for sales of alcohol (which is often sold to underage buyers who have fake IDs, or to straw purchasers who are buying on behalf of an underage buyer), for sales of marijuana in places where it has been legalized, for sales of legal substances that are nonetheless potential drug or bomb precursors, and so on.

Given the government’s penchant for equating nearly everything with its two favorite Wars (Terrorism/Drugs), a vast cross-section of retailers will find themselves legislatively “encouraged” to oblige the government’s “collect it all” excesses.

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Comments on “State Legislators Discussing Laws That Will Put Law Enforcement Surveillance Cameras Inside Private Businesses”

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66 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I propose a law that requires elected officials to carry a body camera at all times, and be forced to turn over the footage upon demand from a citizen. Their offices, phones, email, cell phones shall all be required to upload everything to a central server that citizens can access whenever they want.
The costs of this system are to be paid by the offical and can not be expensed back to the tax payers.

So what I see here is, we spend more money on buying military equipment than actually doing our job. We are so paranoid of missing anything, we are going to make you film it all. As long as we make you bear the costs it isn’t government intrusion. o_O

We have jumped the shark, it is time to reign them back in.
If there are such problems with these businesses, then perhaps they need to address those more proactively beyond the tape it all and when we finally notice the law was broken we can find it.

andypandy says:

Re: Re:

We really need to have a new ability for the people to pass a bill to ensure that there are laws that protect the citizens and uncover the crimes all politicians are guilty of, even if it is legalised bribery of politicians to pass laws that are not in the interest of states and the country as a whole.

The citizens must have the power to vote for new bills that are supported by at least 1 million people, or maybe the power to have referendums on various bills created by citizen rights organisations that have proven they are not taking any legal bribes.

I wish someone with financial backing could start a website that does this, possibly someone like bill gates with his trillions of dollars could invest a few hundred million and invest in the future of the country he made his trillions in and not spending that money in third world countries that have no respect for life and kill each o0ther indiscriminately.

Maybe once the people are in power again then they can put pressure on third world countries or the middle east to stop their indiscriminate killing and ignoring illnesses and look after the citizens of there countries.

Anonymous Coward says:

and shall at all reasonable times be open to the inspection of any properly identified law enforcement officer.

Does this not consists of an unreasonable search?
Further how long before it is mandated that the videos and picture are made accessible to law enforcement via the Internet, or that they are fed to a face recognition system for checking the person is not banned from the purchase, before the sale is permitted?

Anonymous Coward says:

let’s face it, the government has wanted to have a record of every person and everything related to that person. it has been brought out into the open what’s been going on by Snowden, so there are going to be different laws brought in to do separately what was happening before under one option. what needs to happen is everyone needs to know about these new proposals and vote them down before, as mentioned, there are more and more and more. stop it now before it gets going. wait and we’ve had it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“what needs to happen is everyone needs to know about these new proposals and vote them down”

In our so called representative government, you are not asked to vote on these bills.

Note: it is not a representative government when the elected officials do not represent the will of their constituents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, they already know who to disarm. The first is anyone with a concealed carry permit, they have already attested to the fact that they own a gun. The second is to round up all sales records at gun stores and then round up the buyers. You see, the government isn’t allowed to track gun owners, so they have laws that require gun stores to keep track of all sales for all times. If a gun store goes out of business, they must turn over those records to the ATF.

Whatever says:

Re: Re: Re:

“shall make no law” is part of a larger sentence. They have the right to make laws, they have the right to require that the parties to a business transaction are propertly identified. It’s important state interest, and to the benefit of the majority of the people (those who follow the law).

If you take your “shall make no law” to it’s logical extreme, it would mean that everything from jaywalking to the KKK would be protected because they laws against such things harm their free speech rights.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is a violation of the Forth Amendment, not the first. This qualifies as an unreasonable search and seizure.

And for the record, to an extent the KKK is protected under the First Amendment. That’s why the KKK still exists. They’re allowed to hate all they want, just as long as they don’t act on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

They’re allowed to hate all they want, just as long as they don’t act on it.

You need to change that to… as long as they do not act upon it in a way that infringes upon anyone’s liberties.

Refusing to do something for someone because you hate them is not always illegal or morally wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“… the right to require that the parties to a business transaction are propertly identified.”

With respect to a particular transaction, according to specific documentation requirements, and limited only to certain kinds of activities. This does not include keeping a visual record of every single person that walks into a business and giving police unrestricted access to such records.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

An interest to regulate a transaction doesn’t excuse any regulation the state may attempt to pass over that transaction.

For example the state has an interest in regulating water supplies. Doesn’t mean the state is excused in regulating water to prevent anyone from drinking it.

So you have to be more specific. That the state may have an interest in regulating something is just a normative statement and doesn’t contribute much to the conversation. The point of this discussion is to discuss the pros and cons of the regulations the state wants to pass.

Charles (profile) says:

So what happens when people stop using businesses that have state mandated recordings. If I wanted to sell a cell phone, I would find an alternative way to sell the phone. In large cities, I have no doubt that enterprising people will find a way to take advantage of the state government’s stupidity, and most likely an illegal, underground market will emerge.

This is exactly like DRM for business- it only affects legitimate customers and the criminals or would-be criminals are totally unaffected.

If a scrap metal company asked to photograph my truck so I could sell them a load of junk, I would kindly and politely tell them what they can do with their cameras and leave.

Again I ask, where is the outrage?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well this is meant to be the easy answer to the big problems they don’t want to actually solve.

In many parts of the country currently there are scrappers breaking into homes, businesses, anything not guarded by armed guards and ripping out metal to sell for scrap.

In a 1 size fits all solution, we just take pictures and if we manage to figure out someplace was hit, we just check the records and boom we caught them.

Of course then we have a nice list of suspects to work through, so our job is easier.

Perhaps it would be better to look into real solutions to these problems.

Scrappers – they do it because it provides income.
Perhaps trying to get more jobs into the area would fix that. They work damn hard to get a few bucks.

Cell Phones – How about actually forcing the industry to solve the problem? If a stolen phone is reported and remotely deactivated & blocked from reactivation… people wouldn’t steal phones as often. They have no value after that. Returning them to the owner & they could be turned back on.

Gun Sales – this one will be touchy, but there are already oodles of rules and forcing what you want in via the backdoor of burdening 3rd parties is stupid. This is just trying to expand things and creating more problems for everyone.

We really need to stop allowing the idea of just record it all incase we need it later. It won’t stop the event from happening, and that should be the goal. Perhaps doing the hard things of improving the world should win over short sighted quick fixes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The government doesn’t care about taking the difficult way out. A quick ‘fix’ that doesn’t fix anything is the solution because it contributes to a police state. When the fix doesn’t work they can just keep passing more and more fixes and when they don’t work they can keep passing more and more quick fixes until we are under a police state with a list of fixes that don’t work encouraging the passage of even more fixes.

See, for example, the war on drugs. Fix the drug problem by banning drugs. When that doesn’t work and it only creates gangs and violence, instead of admitting that the government made a mistake in banning drugs it starts passing more laws (ie: gun control laws) to stop the gangs. When that doesn’t work we fix it with surveillance laws. Until, pretty soon, we live in a police state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually the scrapper part is not so much breaking into houses existing houses so much as stealing materials from unfinished construction sites.


And except for the owner-occupied homes that have tempting materials attached to them (copper downspouts and the like). (My cousin was awakened early one morning by some noise and discovered scavengers tearing the copper downspouts off the house. The thieves were gone long before the cops arrived.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well this is meant to be the easy answer to the big problems they don’t want to actually solve.

This has been going on for years with convenience and liquor stores. Cities and counties get tired of the volume of calls for thefts and think new laws are needed. The end result is that (at least in my area) some stores now have policies that thefts will only be reported if certain thresholds are exceeded; otherwise the store is just going to roll over and take the loss.

So next time you hear any police department say that crime is going down, take that statement with a grain of salt.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Good only for one thing

“The scrap vehicle operator shall also photograph the seller’s vehicle, including license plate….”

The building I work in has cameras on the parking lots to discourage break-ins. For a camera to cover only a dozen or so stalls, it’s not zoomed in enough to read a license plate. I’ve tried an in-car camera with 1080p resolution, and I had to be right up close to the car in front of me at a stop light for the license plate to be legible in the video.

What they are doing is handing business owners a requirement that cannot be reliably met, if at all. Something they can then charge business owners with, if someone doesn’t know their place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Good only for one thing

and I had to be right up close to the car in front of me at a stop light for the license plate to be legible in the video.

If you are monitoring om a small dash monitor, that would happen, as they have a very low resolution, like 320 x 240. Check the videos on a decent monitor to see what is really visible.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Good only for one thing

I refer to watching the video later on a PC screen at full resolution. Granted, it was a cheap camera with cheap optics, but the image was at least as crisp as a really good 720p camera would produce. And still, you had to be right up close to the car in front to read the plate.

A bit of zoom would fix that, but then you’d have only a narrow field of view. A parking lot cameras has it worse, since you want to cover a much larger area.

Jake says:

Requiring some sort of photographic record of who bought what firearm I can honestly see the point to, though I’m not sure how CCTV accomplishes this better than simply taking a photocopy of whatever photo ID the customer brought with them as proof of age and citizenship.

But for cellphones? Really? That’s not even trying to be subtle about being a dystopian surveillance state!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

people being mugged for their latest and greatest ithingys and android phones is hot right now.

They are high ticket items, there has been much resistance to creation of a stolen phone database to block them from being reactivated and there is demand. They can dump them on craigslist or to a cell reseller who wipes the phone as part of their normal business and then sells it to whoever has cash. If you power on the phone and it says this phone has been deactivated as stolen… much less likely to sell.

Rather than burden the providers & producers to create a system, it makes way more sense to have people who deal with the phones take pictures and hang onto them for when they get around to checking for stolen phones. Then they can cite them for buying stolen goods, being bad for the neighborhood, and all sorts of other things.

TheResidentSkeptic says:

Great Money-Making Opportunity here!!!

Set up a kiosk outside of every gun store in the state – renting Rahm Emanuel masks to be worn during the purchase…

Or setting up a full makeup/costume studio. Let’s see how many George Washingtons and Lincolns and Jacksons and Franklins we can get on video buying guns…

… or Aaron Burr for extra style points..

Anonymous Coward says:

There’s no defensible reason for the “available for inspection upon request” part of this. If the police are legitimately investigating a crime, they can easily get a proper warrant. And if they’re not, they have no business looking at the video.

At what point does it become a First Amendment speech/assembly issue, when people can no longer use your business to gather and talk about the latest police brutality case, because they know the police in question can (without a warrant) find out who was there and who said what?

At what point does it become a 5th amendment self-incrimination issue, when you’re required to be constantly videotaping yourself and provide that tape to police, without them even needing a suspicion of wrongdoing?

At what point does it become a basic privacy issue, when police can, just for laughs, decide to pull the video where it looks like you’re picking your nose?

That One Guy (profile) says:

That wasn't a suggestion you morons!

So anyone else remember the example that’s been bandied about to counter the ‘For National Security!’/’For safety!’ claims, about how even though installing cameras in everyones homes would undoubtedly stop a bunch of crimes, it’s still not something that should be done due to the massive violation of privacy that would cause?

Because I get the feeling these people only heard the first half of that.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s pretty nice that all these plans include stipulations that any LEO can come in at any time and watch all the recordings.

Let’s say the sheriff’s office deputized me as a meter maid/traffic cop. Now I can go into any gun store and browse a years worth of gun buyers captured on video/photo. Or who just bought the new itelephone or whatever.

Anything that tickles the fancy of any LEO.

If these go through it is just a matter of time before banks have to record anyone who performs any transaction.

You know. Because of possible ‘smurfing’ and so on.
It could even be drug money.

It’s just like the intelligence community outsourcing their collections so the state doesn’t violate any “rights”.
It’s like the third party doctrine.

“We don’t search anything. We just force businesses to do this and let them provide the infracstructure for us. We just waltz in when we want to and seize any info we want.
We are separated by a whole hop so you should feel totally safe”

Anyway these plans won’t accomplish their “stated goals” as every inclined individual will just wait 31 days to use their burner phone and stockpile arms 1 year and 1 day before using them.

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