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The Vegas Shooting Makes It Clear More Surveillance Isn't The Answer

from the neither-is-a-reduction-in-civil-liberties dept

The solutions proposed by legislators, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and multiple direct beneficiaries of amped-up surveillance in the wake of acts of terrorism are always the same: more of the stuff that didn't prevent the last attack.

London is a thicket of CCTV cameras and yet it's suffered multiple attacks in recent years. The NYPD and New York's former mayor idolized the London system: cameras everywhere (but not on NYPD officers). Despite this, New York City's relative safety appears to based more on policing tactics than hundreds of passive eyes.

Considering the unshakable belief "more cameras = more safety," how do surveillance supporters explain the recent shooting in Las Vegas, perhaps the most heavily-surveilled city on the planet?

In 2013, Nevada outfitted the Strip's "real-time crime center" with an additional 37 pivot-and-zoom cameras with a $350,000 federal grant. And as a surveillance expert told the Sun, most casinos on the strip are running thousands of cameras already: "Casinos have 100 percent coverage of virtually every square inch," he said. In the highways around Vegas, there are still cameras every half-mile. "Loss-prevention" recording devices stalk the Strip's employees in the back-of-house.

And still, while the footage will be rewound and analyzed in the coming weeks, acquired by the press, and used to model future scenarios, none of those cameras stopped a man from walking into the Mandalay and stocking a small arsenal of automatic weapons in his hotel room.

More isn't better. This much is clear. The NSA's infamous haystacks have caused more problems for analysts, who are tasked with sifting through millions of communications in hopes of flagging something worth pursuing. Thousands of cameras are useless if there aren't thousands of eyes to watch them in real time. It may help investigators after the fact, but after-the-fact detective work is never preferable to preventing deadly attacks.

As Molly Osberg points out for Splinter, the proposed prevention efforts will likely include even more cameras. And these proposals will come with zero stats backing up claims of increased safety and security.

[L]ondon police estimated almost a decade ago that for every 1,000 security cameras installed, only one crime was solved.

Eliminating cameras isn't the answer. But neither is continuing to prop up the delusion that more = safer. The same goes for other surveillance methods. Grabbing millions of communications daily might seem like a good way to catch something relevant now and then, but hours are wasted on filtering out false positives and internet detritus that wouldn't be swept up in more targeted approaches.

The surveillance state hasn't failed. It's just enamored with compounding its existing problems by adding more capacity. The only thing really guaranteed is more failure.

Filed Under: cameras, haystacks, las vegas, privacy, shooting, surveillance


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  1. icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 10 Oct 2017 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Drawing a conclusion without conclusive evidence

    "Boston happened. Charlie Hebdo happened."

    You still seem to be thinking that CCTV cameras are some how able to read minds. They are not.

    Boston is a good example. The guys did everything about right. They came to a very public event, blended in with tens of thousands of other people, and "forgot' a backpack with the bomb in it in an area where there were plenty of other backpacks. How the hell do you expect CCTV to magically pick that out?

    Charlie Hebdo is the same thing. Two men walk into a building, nothing surprising - people enter the same building over and over all day long. They happened to have concealed weapons, and shot the place up and killed 12 people. CCTV cannot read their minds.

    "Then again, you consider LOVEINT to be reasonable."

    Stop lying.

    I consider it unreasonable, but not unexpected. Police officers are humans, we all make mistakes and perhaps take advantage of things we shouldn't. It is human nature. Dealing with it strongly is key to reminding others that it's not acceptable.

    So yeah, quit lying. You are a sorry troll trying to drag the discussion far away from my original point, that CCTV was never intended as a magic wand to read people's minds and stop crimes before they happen, they are there to document when happened, and perhaps to discourage people from committing crimes (at least not directly in front of the camera).

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