Video Surveillance

Is video surveillance good or bad? Setting up cameras to watch people as they go about their daily lives is no good. It is creepy and Orson Well’s 1984 – like (and 1984 was a very scary read for me).

The advantages of having cameras are obvious. You can have a recording of all the things that passed by your shop or this popular street and so on. If we manage to be able to read people’s faces and mob actions, then they will be more useful and even more prevalent. Crime could seriously be reduced if we can capture the faces of criminals the moment they walk outside.

The disadvantage is its influence on the public. To be honest, it creeps the bejesus outta me to think that I am on camera. Thinking about some weird dude sitting in a dark room, chuckling to himself as he follows some innocent wanderers as they go buy porn or other terrible things makes me very nervous. They already have cameras that take hilarious pictures of people cutting red lights, but if it becomes more about information gathering than protection, we might be at a serious disadvantage to the people in control of cameras (which could end up being the wrong people). Not being able to trust the people videotaping you is fearful.

So what do you think? Are cameras naughty or nice? A security problem or a security solution? Note: sure there are many problems that can be solved by cameras, but are they worth the constant surveillance? (instead of risk assessment, ethical assessment)

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4 thoughts on “Video Surveillance

  1. This is a good post but I am torn between whether video surveillance is a good or bad thing. In some instances having video surveillance is a good idea such as in a bank to prevent and capture an armed robbery that could take place. Also, security cameras can also be a good idea when they are used to some convenience stores to also capture robberies and crimes that may occur. However, there are all some times where having security cameras can be a bad thing especially If they are put into the wrong persons hand. For example, I would not really feel comfortable if there were security cameras just set up in the street to capture our every move. Although, I have nothing to hide I still would not like being followed or looked at under surveillance.

  2. I have a camera set up on the front of my house in plain view from the street. After being egged for no apparent reason at my home, I felt this was an adequate solution. The camera records 24/7, but I only rarely view the live or historical feeds.

    I think this is a good visual deterrent as well as a tool that can be leveraged should the violators ever come back. Further, it gives me some peace of mind knowing there are always eyes out front should I be out back and someones decides to permanently loan an item from my garage.

  3. If you think “1984” was scary read “Harrison Bergeron”
    Naughty or nice they are going to be part of our future I am certain. The security implementations are to valuable for the use of cameras not to grow with technology. Hopefully privacy laws won’t take too long to catch-up.
    I do think they are a security solution for some, but mostly as a deterrent I would say. Why shoplift from a store with cameras when you can go to one that doesn’t have them? I use this reference because I have had a long history in retail. When I was a manager with a unnamed national store, the store did not have cameras when I arrived. Our estimated losses would make your head spin. Eventually we got cameras…we didn’t catch any more shoplifters than other years, but our losses dropped over 70%.
    For that reason alone I do think they are worth it. Of course that is retail; there are so many applications now who knows if it is always worth it or not. As for ethically…I don’t think the cameras are the real issue. I think the issue is how they are used. If used correctly and not abused then yes I feel it is ethically acceptable.

    You might find the begging part of this article interesting.
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_37/b4000401.htm

  4. I think you bring up the obviouse thoughts that we all think about. Is it better to have a camera for safety reasons and be video taped in the process? Well I guess it depends on how deep we are going with it. If face recognition is added to the mix like you have suggested, how would that effect out privacy and how do we know when someone can hack these systems and use them against us?

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