Political Science Paper #1Joshua Ungren While governing society sounds like a good idea I believe that surveillance cameras should not be installed throughout communities by the government because there are possibilities for the surveillance cameras to be abused, they violate our rights for privacy, and it has not been effective. First of all, possibilities for abuse of surveillance cameras has already become a problem. According to the American Civil Liberties Union there are five different ways that surveillance camera systems can be abused. These include criminal abuse, institutional abuse, abuse for personal purposes, discriminatory targeting, and voyeurism. Criminal abuse is the use of surveillance cameras to try to commit a crime. One example is a top ranking police official in Washington DC was using police databases to gather information on people at a gay club in 1997. He was caught using the licence plates of cars parked at the club to find their owners and blackmail the ones that were married. This happened before there was a city wide surveillance. Sometimes an entire law enforcement agency use surveillance toward abusive ends. This is called institutional abuse. Good examples of this are during the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. Whole organizations, including the FBI and individual police departments used surveillance to spy on and harass political activists who challenged their beliefs. Surveillance can also be misused for personal purposes. An investigation by the Detroit Free Press showed that the Michigan law enforcement used surveillance to stalk, threaten, and track people. Discriminatory targeting is also a problem being that video camera systems are controlled by humans. In Great Britain the people controlling the cameras have been found to focus disproportionately on people of color. Experts have also found that camera operators in Great Britain frequently use the surveillance cameras to voyeuristically spy on women. The researchers found that one of ten women were targeted for entirely voyeuristic reasons. There are also examples in the United States including New York City police helicopter spying on a couple enjoying themselves on their rooftop balcony when they were supposed to monitor the crowds of the 2004 Republican Convention. While there are not many recorded accounts of abuse of surveillance the possibilities will only increase with the introduction city wide surveillance camera systems. Secondly, whenever the subject of governing society comes up violation of privacy is always one of the first points that comes up. Privacy has been a topic of conversation dating back to even the birth of our nation. According to Cornell Law School the fourth Amendment says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The fourth amendment should protect us from surveillance without a probable cause, supported by and oath or affirmation. There are also no limits for the capabilities of these surveillance cameras. There are already cameras everywhere that can display high resolution, night vision, and facial recognition. Police departments will be pressured to place more cameras and better cameras and without a limits these things could easily get out of hand. There also needs a consensus for legally enforceable rules including what is being recorded and when. People need to know when they are being watched or recorded or both. There also needs to be rules about who can access the archived video. Which government agencies can view the recorded and whether or not the public can view any of it are rules that need to be made. The lack of privacy will also affect people’s public lives. When people are being watched they tend to be more self conscious. People will change their habits and even be more careful about what books they read in public just to make sure they don’t offend anybody that is watching them. They will even change how they act and dress to make sure no one confuses them for terrorists, druggies, or gang members. The biggest argument against this I have heard is “If you have nothing to hide then it doesn’t matter” but in that case why have them at all. Finally, it just hasn’t been effective so far. The main reason for the push of surveillance was terrorist attacks and there have been very few caught. Not to mention that cameras will not deter suicide bombers. In fact, it might attract them because of the free press and television. The real reason the cameras are deployed are for petty crimes like theft and these still haven’t decreased. In fact, a 2005 study for the British Home Office they found that cameras did not cut crime or increase the fear of crime. Even with increased surveillance it can take a long time to solve crimes. According to CNN it took the FBI three days to find pictures of the bombers at the Boston Marathon bombing in April of 2013. A large surveillance system has been set up since 1998 and in 2008, only one crime was solved for every one thousand cameras, according to CNN. This cost Britain authorities nearly $800 million over four years, according to civil liberties group Big Brother Watch. New York’s Lower Manhattan Security Initiative is a surveillance system that would contain four thousand cameras and cost $150 million to initiate. Also, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, United States government experts noted that “monitoring video screens is both boring and mesmerizing,” and that “after only twenty minutes of watching and evaluating monitor screens, the attention of most individuals has degenerated to well below acceptable levels.” Surveillance systems are still young and could grow to be more effective but will never cost less. In conclusion, when I started this project I was very much for a surveillance system, but, after research, I changed my mind because of the fact that they could be abused, take away our privacy, and also not be very effective. Word Count: 1010Bibliography”What’s Wrong With Public Video Surveillance?” American Civil Liberties Union, www.aclu.org/other/whats-wrong-public-video-surveillance.Kelly, Heather. “After Boston: The pros and cons of surveillance cameras.” CNN, Cable News Network, 26 Apr. 2013, www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/tech/innovation/security-cameras-boston-bombings/index.html.Li, Amanda. “Pros and Cons of Surveillance Cameras in Public Places – Reolink Blog.” Reolink, 26 Sept. 2017, reolink.com/pros-cons-of-surveillance-cameras-in-public-places/.Staff, LII. “Fourth Amendment.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 5 Feb. 2010, www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment.Henn, Steve. “In More Cities, A Camera On Every Corner, Park And Sidewalk.” NPR, NPR, 20 June 2013, www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/06/20/191603369/The-Business-Of-Surveillance-Cameras.
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