Majority of Americans support more public surveillance cameras

So sez this poll.

I wasn’t quite sure where to put this, but flipped a coin and decided to put it here. I don’t think it’s as simple as “the polled people are scared of terrorists.” I think many figure, “hey, I’m in public anyway, and everyone knows you can’t cry ‘privacy’ when in public, so what’s the difference between having cops watch me and having cameras do it?” From there, it’s not a big jump to thinking that they don’t infringe on civil liberties.

I mean, the London cameras mentioned in the article are pretty popular there. Does this poll mean anything, as far as attitudes towards surveillance are concerned? Is the majority right somehow?

I think it depends on where exactly the cameras are located. If we’re talking about entrances to subway stations, sports stadiums or shopping centers, I’m not too concerned. If we’re talking random street corners in small town America, I get a little uneasy. If we’re talking about spy satellites a la “24” (the TV show), I get downright nervous-- those things can see inside buildings!

In public places is fine. Pointed at residences, notsomuch. IMHO.

Some of the surveillance towers that they are building to watch for illegal immigrants on the southern border can see into nearby homes, it has caused some outcry from residents.

It creeps me out. Sure, it may be no different from having a cop stand on the street corner watching you, but do people really like the idea of cops on every street corner 24 hours a day?! This is basically the equivalent. Nothing I do outside my house will be unknown to any government bureacrat that’s the least bit curious about me.

I’m a very public person, and don’t mind anyone watching me do just about anything. Whatever.

However, the idea of a government-controlled infrastructure put in place specifically to keep tabs on immoral activity via recording equipment creeps me out. Having it there just makes it that much easier for one nutjob police officer, politician, president, whomever, to do bad things with it.

Are we so under siege by criminals that we need to take this step?

IMO, “surveillance” include some active component of watching a particular person or group, not necessarily a generic public area. I also doubt these cameras are “actively” monitored; they’re more likely taped and stored away in case a crime should occur in that area, but otherwise no one will ever watch them.

Can this system be abused? Sure, but it doesn’t appear to be something that can be done easily; that city employee stalking his ex-girlfriend with red-light cameras is going to have to be pretty creative to do it. And even if I concede the possibility for abuse, it’s far outweighed by the deterrent to general crime, not to mention the advantage in legal cases of having objective video evidence over subjective eye-witness testimony.

Believe me, I was a card-carrying member of the ACLU long before Bush I made that sound treasonous, but I’m not really that worried about public surveillance cameras. Such a system certainly requires separate oversight, but I don’t think it’s that big of a problem.

Shortly after the recent car bombings were avoided in London, I heard that in England there is a surveillance camera for every twenty-five people. That is public surveillance! But look how quickly arrests were made.

And in a way, knowing that they are watching just about everything that’s going on makes it easier to believe that they won’t be targeting individuals inappropriately. Besides, they can do that anyway if they want to. I’m in favor of the surveillance.

Most video cameras have no one on the other end watching.

That’s what I thought, too. It’s not like there’s going ot be a guy on the end of set of cameras 24/7. I would have thought mainly they’re just useful for checking when there’s been a crime in the area.

That said, i’m not that bothered either way. It would take a* lot* of cameras to unnerve me.

That’s about the long and the short of it. If you have anyone watching at all, it’s probably gonna be like one guy being paid to watch a couple dozen cameras, when he’s really watching Lost on TV.

Yeah, people blow the surveillance thing out of proportion. If you don’t want the government to know where you are here are things you should avoid using.

EZ Pass
Cell Phone
Landline in your own name
Credit/Debit cards
Internet
Cable Television
Satellite Radio
Electronic Public Transportation Pass
Bank

Every time you use any of these products it creates an imprint that discloses your location at the time into records that can be subpoenaed. As most of our lives in this day and age are a series of using these products, generally our whereabouts can be placed at any given time of day by a high enough level authority.

I strongly recommend this book as a prerequisite for this discussion. Read the introduction here to get a flavor of the book’s argument; it’s directly on point with respect to the widespread installation of surveillance cameras.

It’s not a perfect book. But it’s extremely thought-provoking.

Gotta love the modern-day panopticon. It seems to me that people might be a little more uncomfortable with the idea if there were public screens showing just how prevalent the surveillance will be. That is, make it clear just how much of a person’s life will be monitored, and then ask them again.

The poll results strike me as an example of “out of sight, out of mind” (pun intended). Which is, perhaps, exactly what the powers that be want.

an atm camera did get a picture of the ok city bombing… until the camera was damaged.

a security camera gives us picture of the collapse of minn’s bridge.

there are many cameras that are in private use in most cities that you often have a video of crimes. the problem is in the quality of the video.

perhaps having laws cover security cameras in private hands (ie amount of time saved, times video can be recorded on, etc) would be better. there are laws requiring that signs be posted about the camera(s) and where and how they can be used.