If you've ever visited a therapist, had a private conversation with someone while jogging, or canvassed neighborhoods for a political candidate, your activities may have been videotaped by surveillance cameras. Increasingly, behaviors that we think are private are being videotaped.
In New York City, the use of cameras to monitor the behavior of people is growing dramatically since 9/11. There are between 3,500 to 6,000 surveillance cameras in the New York City system. The new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is lobbying the state legislature in Albany for authority to install even more surveillance cameras as part of his “Vision Zero” plan.
Well, now, a town in Michigan is working with police to put a surveillance camera in each neighborhood as it expands its pilot program. An additional tax levy on each home will pay for expanding and maintaining the township's system of surveillance cameras.
Ypsilanti, a town with about 20,000 residents and best know as the home of Eastern Michigan University, is moving forward with this plan despite lackluster public support for more surveillance cameras.
Whether advocates want more surveillance cameras in Ypsilanti or New York City, their argument is always the same: the cameras see the same things that a policeman would see if he were standing there. But while there's evidence to suggest that a police officer's presence deters crime, there is no evidence that the presence of surveillance cameras prevent it.
On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that the move to increase the presence of surveillance cameras are threatening to undermining our constitutionally protected rights. This concern comes against the backdrop of revelations about National Security Agency spying activities and has some people wondering where all this surveillance is taking us.
Here are some of the latest plans to expand surveillance camera programs:
Chicago Transit Authority buses this spring will get more surveillance cameras, according to the Chicago Tribune (Feb. 27).
Police in California what you to let them use home security cameras for surveillance, according to a report in CNET (Jan. 26).
School buses in Athens, Georgia will soon be fitted with surveillance cameras (Jan. 23).
The city of Austin, Texas is planning on installing surveillance cameras city-wide while the Austin police want to monitor children in public schools (Feb. 28).
Are there plans to install surveillance camera in your town? Do you think surveillance cameras are a threat to our privacy? Let us know in the comments below.