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Surveillance Camera Network Coming To New York? 185

Posted by Zonk
from the if-they-can-make-it-here dept.
yapplejax writes "New York City is seeking funding for a multi-million dollar surveillance system modeled on the one used in London. Police in the city already make use of the network of cameras in airports, banks, department stores and corporate offices — an arrangement used in cities across the country. This new project would augment that network with a city-wide grid. 'The system has four components: license plate readers, surveillance cameras, a coordination center, and roadblocks that can swing into action when needed. The primary purpose of the system is deterrence, and then an investigative tool.' But is it necessary? Steven Swain from the London Metropolitan Police states 'I don't know of a single incident where CCTV has actually been used to spot, apprehend or detain offenders in the act.'"
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Surveillance Camera Network Coming To New York?

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  • Uh 'supposedly' (Score:4, Insightful)

    by weierstrass (669421) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:14AM (#20112123) Homepage Journal
    the purpose of the network of number-plate-recognising cameras we have across this city isn't to surveil and 'deter' us, but to charge people who have to pay a congestion charge to drive through the city centre at busy times.
    How are they going to justify the Big Brother system in New York? Not only do they not have such a fee, but if they did it would be easily implemented by tolls on the bridges and tunnels that are the only way of getting to Manhattan from outside.
    • Re:Uh 'supposedly' (Score:4, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:22AM (#20112153)
      You're confusing the Congestion Charge cameras with the City of London's "Ring of Steel". Those are not for charging folks, but to look at all cars entering/leaving the city, and to see if there are any suspicious movements. Data is not logged, nothing is stored in the national police computer - numberplates are simply checked against the police database, and any stolen cars or cars with incorrect license plates are flagged, and patrols on the streets are notified. How is that "Big Brother"?
      • Re:Uh 'supposedly' (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QMalcolm (1094433) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:24AM (#20112159)
        Data is not being logged *now*, nothing is stored in computers *yet*. Which do you think is more difficult: convincing the public to install a public surveillance system, or changing how that system operates once it's installed?
        • Re:Uh 'supposedly' (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dave420 (699308) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:29AM (#20112179)
          That depends on how the police are regulated. If they have decent civilian oversight, then the recording of data can only happen if the population wants it. It sounds like your real beef is with an unregulated police force that can do what it wants, not with CCTV. Perhaps you should try focussing your efforts on fixing the real problem?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ScrewMaster (602015)
            Perhaps you should try focussing your efforts on fixing the real problem?

            In an ideal world, that would be the case. But given the level of power-mongering and outright corruption that exists in just about every major American city government, the best we can do is fight the symptoms.
            • by dave420 (699308)
              Then fight the power-mongering and outright corruption! Never settle for second-best - if your country is fucked, try to fix it! Did the founding fathers just say "eh... fuck it. what can we do?" or did they actually do something? It's the "fix the symptoms" attitude that lets fucked-up people stay in power, unchallenged. If the system is broke, it's your duty to try and fix it.
      • Are you from London? (Score:5, Informative)

        by weierstrass (669421) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @08:15AM (#20112349) Homepage Journal
        Actually, I'm not confusing the two. The article is. Presumably you yourself don't know anything about the subject, since you are too.

        The 'Ring of Steel' is not a 'a network of thousands of surveillance cameras that line London's intersections and neighborhoods'. It's a bunch of sort-of-roadblocks which are on most vehicle entrances to the City of London - London's financial district, and very different from Central London. By this I mean the road narrows to a single lane with a bend in it to slow down vehicles, and there's a little booth where (sometimes) police sit and watch you. They keep an eye out for suspicious looking vehicles like 'panel vans' or similar which have been used by the IRA for bombings. Often they are unmanned. The cops might occasionally ask you where you're going, but AFAIK there's no routing logging or looking up of number plates.

        There are also cameras as part of the Ring of Steel, but just to film vehicles at these ways in to the City. Note that the Ring only protects the City, which wasn't a target either of the 2005 bombings and failed bombings (except in as much that one of the bombed tube trains, the one at Moorgate, was probably inside the City when the bomb went off), nor of the recent failed firebombings in West Central London. It was set up in the early 90's, when the IRA were very active in London.

        As for the 'network of thousands of surveillance cameras' that they are talking about, well it's difficult to say because there are a lot of CCTV cameras in London, installed by many different organisations; local authorities, traffic cops, companies on their private property etc. But I think it's a fair assumption that they are referring to the Congestion Charge cameras, since there isn't to my knowledge another citywide network of cameras, other than the ones on the public transport system, which obviously don't line 'intersections and neighbourhoods'. These are at every street entrance to the Congestion charge zone, a much much bigger area which covers every part of London that could be said to be central; shopping districts, theatre district, all main govt. buildings, royal palaces etc. and track the number plates of every single car going in and out. They also cover many, many locations inside the zone, to catch people who got in without being recorded or who live in the zone (they still have to pay). There are also vans fitted with cameras which drive around filming number plates. The data is kept for quite a while, for billing and penalty recovery purposes among others. There are in fact guys who walk around suburban residential streets outside the zone, taking down all number plates looking for people who have been in the zone without paying (I've met one on the job). The cameras are kept on all the time, even though there is no charge after 7:30 pm or in before the morning rush hour.

        When the system was set up, the Greater London Authority promised they would not pass on the information to the police. Then they started to allow access to the police to look at the video afterwards if requested. Since the recent failed terrorism attacks, they now allow the police to watch in real time, but only for preventing and investigating 'threats to national security' - they can't use the info against normal crime.
        HTH.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dave420 (699308)
          I'm on the same page as you are - I was trying to reconcile the faulty comparison between London's Ring of Steel (the real Police camera network) and the proposed NYC version, as the comparison was faulty, I was doomed to fail from the beginning - thanks for being polite in addressing my argumentative short-comings ;) I'm aware of the differences, especially between the CC camera network and the City's network.

          I lived in london for 8 years until May of this year, so I'm quite familiar with the CC and City.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nurb432 (527695)
        "Data is not logged, nothing is stored in the national police computer"

        And you really believe this?
    • by symbolic (11752) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:23AM (#20112157)
      The article says, "Police officials say the surveillance cameras can help combat crime and terrorism..."

      When you start using "crime" and "Terrorism" in the same sentence to justify the actions of government, I think there's a big problem on the horizon. How long will it be before the two are used interchangeably?
      • by dave420 (699308)
        But they can be used to combat both crime and terrorism. Using two distinct words in one sentence to describe to two different notions is not dangerous. If you're worried about them being contracted to mean the same thing, then maybe you should focus on that, instead of people legitimately using them in their intended meanings? The police combat crime and terrorism - is that dangerous?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by meringuoid (568297)
        When you start using "crime" and "Terrorism" in the same sentence to justify the actions of government, I think there's a big problem on the horizon. How long will it be before the two are used interchangeably?

        Personally, I only object to the redundancy. Saying that the police will combat 'crime and terrorism' is just like saying they will combat 'crime and murder', or 'crime and counterfeiting', or 'crime and burglary'. Terrorism is just one of many crimes the police are expected to combat, so saying 'cr

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JonathanR (852748)
          Not quite correct. Terrorism is subtly different to crime, in that these two behaviors are treated differently with respect to operational methods and policing powers.

          Expect to see the defined set of terrorism behaviors gradually supersede that of crime behaviors. As sure as a over-sized violin, you'll then be dispensed with any perception of redundancy: You'll only need to refer to terrorism.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by symbolic (11752)
          The reason I made the distinction is because "terrorism" and the so-called "war on terrorism" isn't just a local police issue. It has the force of a huge bureaucracy (DHS) as well as the military behind it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by furball (2853)
          And there is the crux of the problem. You already accepted that terrorism is a crime (civilian issue).

          There are portions of the government that treats terrorism as a military matter (Republicans: Guantanamo Bay prisoners are military issue, they don't get civilian treatments like someone picked up for murder would) and others that treats terrorism as a crime (Democrats: Hey, why don't Guantanamo Bay prisoners have habeas corpus?).

          You need to be very careful of this dichotomy and read critically into what is
    • How are they going to justify the Big Brother system in New York?

      But this is progress. As such, the burden is now on those like you to justify standing in the way of progress. Why are you such a reactionary luddite technophobe? Don't you want rapists and murderers to get caught? We should embrace this and all other technologies which will usher in a brave new world...eh...um, yeah!

      Seriously though, this is the mentality in a technocratic culture like ours. Tools are worshiped above and beyond any c

    • Re:Uh 'supposedly' (Score:4, Informative)

      by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@gm ... om minus painter> on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:36AM (#20112207) Homepage

      How are they going to justify the Big Brother system in New York? Not only do they not have such a fee, but if they did it would be easily implemented by tolls on the bridges and tunnels that are the only way of getting to Manhattan from outside.
      There actually is talk of possibly instating a congestion charge in Manhattan, but it would only be for higher-traffic areas (i.e. midtown) which is why they're pushing the idea of surveillance cameras rather than bridge/tunnel tolls.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "How are they going to justify the Big Brother system in New York? "

      Set it up for ANPR and cross-reference with insurance companies and the DMV registration database would be a nice, revenue-enhancing start. Uninsured and unlicensed drivers (esp. the drunk variety) are a danger to anyone. Use the system to nail them, and of course the attendant car and personal searches will bag some folks with prior warrants, guns, etc.
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dave420 (699308) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:18AM (#20112137)
    ... It has been used many times in the UK to stop crimes in progress. For instance, I saw a TV show where the new speaking CCTV cameras interrupted some guy getting the shit kicked out of him. The attacker realised he was on CCTV and ran off. The camera operator simply followed him from one camera to the next, constantly reminding him he's been videotaped, the cops have his description and are en route, and that he really can't get away. He was caught. CCTV is a great technology. People are hesitant to accept it because it can be used inappropriately or illegally, but then so can any law-enforcement technology - does that mean we get rid of police cars, police helicopters, police computers, or even the police themselves? Shooting society in the foot by refusing to tackle corruption when it occurs, and instead taking the easy route of just crying foul when inherently useful technology is made available, is not helping anyone. CCTV, at its worst, gives police a way of seeing a recording of a crime that has happened, and at best gives police a view of a crime in progress. If the problem is the police might mis-use it, then your problem isn't with CCTV but the police. It would be in society's best interests to fix the problem, not limiting the police's efficiency. The cries of "1984! 1984!" are woefully inaccurate, as these cameras are not in our homes, but in our streets, a place the police are 100% free to go. The police have a mandate to use all available technology to protect the public - CCTV is just another tool in the toolbox.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by farker haiku (883529)
      You're a fool mr dave420. I'm glad you only smoke pot in the comfort and safety of your own home, and never do anything remotely illegal outside of your front door.
      • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dave420 (699308) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @07:34AM (#20112199)
        Could you not be bothered to actually debate what I said, or do you feel calling me a fool is somehow enough to counter my points? Or maybe you're in favour of people being able to do illegal stuff without fear of being caught? Fantastic.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by deftcoder (1090261)
          Show me someone who NEVER breaks ANY laws during their normal, day-to-day activities over the course of a year and I'll show you a bridge that I have for sale...

          How does that quote go? "If there aren't enough criminals, there aren't enough laws", or something like that?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jc42 (318812)
            Show me someone who NEVER breaks ANY laws during their normal, day-to-day activities ...

            There have been a number of things written about the logical impossibility of obeying all the laws in most jurisdictions. It might be fun to make a collection of examples.

            One that was publicised in a state where I once lived (name omitted to make you suspect that it might be where you live ;-) was a pair of laws with "reasonable" interpretations. One was an anti-vagrancy law, in which one of the acceptable kinds of evi
          • by Wordsmith (183749)
            This speaks to an issue with there being too many inappropriate laws; it says nothing about the enforcement issue. One would hope enforcement of any law would be 100 percent effective, and that all laws would be entirely fair; relying on the first to be false because the second demonstrably is amounts to un ugly hack of the social contract.
          • by dave420 (699308)
            Then the problem isn't CCTV but stupid laws. Again - fix the problem - the stupid laws. If the laws are fair and decent, having someone with your best interests at heart looking out for you when you're in public is a great thing.
        • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jeevesbond (1066726) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @08:11AM (#20112341) Homepage

          It's because your points are so daft they're not even worth countering. The 'nothing to hide' mentality is dangerous as proven by the professor who wrote this paper [slashdot.org].

          The problem with ubiquitous police surveillance is the creation of a Kafka-esque bureaucracy. One that can gather more information on your personal business than you know yourself, that bureaucracy will then judge you using that data--probably without you even realising--and without giving you an opportunity to defend yourself. Particularly with laws that allow the British police to detain suspects without charge [bbc.co.uk]; this ability was abused in South Africa during the Apartheid era by releasing people then re-arresting them the next day (and holding them for another ~28 days, rinse and repeat). I can see no reason why the same thing couldn't happen in the UK: all the government has to do is cite 'terrorism' and show a picture of some brown person and no-one will complain.

          I don't think a talking CCTV camera breaking up a fight is worth the infringement on society's privacy. What a brave politician would do is tackle the causes of that behaviour, why is it so many of the denizens of the UK act like arseholes? Fix that and you don't need the CCTV.

          It seems like the same problem and attempted resolution in New York, I doubt it will work there either (although I don't know much about the city).

          • by dave420 (699308)
            I'm not talking about a "nothing to hide" mentality. Far from it. I'm talking about ensuring our police forces run as the public wants them to, which in turn negates any concerns people have for any technology they use being mis-used.

            If you're worried about Kafka-esque bureaucracy, then CCTV isn't your worry - it's the police force and the legal system you are worried about. Fix the problem, not the symptom. You're shooting yourself, and society, in the foot by denying useful technology to the police be
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RobertLTux (260313)
        there is a quote running about that states "have the most honest man write 12 lines and i will find something in them to hang him for"

        given the laws complexity (approaches and sometimes exceeds a rubiks teseract) everybody sometime does something worth time.
        • by pipingguy (566974) *
          Could this be why most statements from "officials" (or whatever sort) often contain so much bafflegab and buzzwords?
    • by MollyB (162595) *
      from the summary: Steven Swain from the London Metropolitan Police states 'I don't know of a single incident where CCTV has actually been used to spot, apprehend or detain offenders in the act'."

      The first five sentences in your post appears to contradict him. Care to elaborate?
      • by dave420 (699308)
        I did elaborate. I told you what I saw. He doesn't say it's never happened, just that he doesn't know about it ever happening. Our positions are not mutually exclusive.
      • by illtud (115152)
        from the summary: Steven Swain from the London Metropolitan Police states 'I don't know of a single incident where CCTV has actually been used to spot, apprehend or detain offenders in the act'."

        The first five sentences in your post appears to contradict him. Care to elaborate?


        It's a misquote. Every weekend you'll find dozens of incidents in towns all over the UK (probably dozens in London alone) where the police are called in response to CCTV operator callouts. The courts process thousands of cases a year
    • "Will we now create false gods to rule over us? How proud we have become, and how blind."
      -- Sister Miriam Godwinson, We Must Dissent, on the Self-Aware Colony
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @08:08AM (#20112327) Homepage Journal
      The 21st century privacy problem isn't cameras. It's networks.

      Being observed by a camera in a public place is no big deal. Being followed by the video surveillance network is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        Wish I had a mod point or two. Of course, not all networked surveillance has to do with cameras, as witness the NSA wiretapping fiasco. Advanced communications is a two-edged sword all right.
      • by pipingguy (566974) *
        The first thing I did with my new MacBook Pro on Wednesday was to tape over the little camera lens (yes, after 15 years of using PCs I finally switched - but only because of the BootCamp/Parallels option).
    • Another example (possibly from the same problem). A girl was walking down a dodgy road alone, a CCTV operator noticed she was incredibly high risk to be attacked, trained cameras on her as she walked through a crime hotspot, noticed a guy clearly following her, called the police and talked them through what was happening. The guy then forced the girl into a nearby bush out of sight of the cameras but got spooked by the police sirens and ran off before he could do anything.

      I'm of the mind that you've littl

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        I also find it amusing that people always bring up 1984 in regards to CCTV when the main point of 1984 wasn't the surveillance but the use of propaganda and a false war to keep citizens in tow.

        Apparently we have that problem as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EllisDees (268037)
        >I also find it amusing that people always bring up 1984 in regards to CCTV when the main point of 1984 wasn't the surveillance but the use of propaganda and a false war to keep citizens in tow.

        The main point was that if you give the government that much power over your lives, they will abuse it. The surveillance *was* one of the main points - you never knew when Big Brother was watching for subversive activities.
        • by abigsmurf (919188)
          the surveillance is the part everyone will mention but in the book it's a means to an end which is unquestioned loyalty and brainwashing through the use of a continual war.
        • by zmollusc (763634)
          What do you mean 'if you give' the government more power? The government (whatever party is in charge) allocates more power to itself, and erodes rights of citizens. What you gonna do? Protest marches have to have police approval. Ownership of weapons is illegal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JustNiz (692889)
        >> but the use of propaganda and a false war to keep citizens in tow.

        Hmm... thank goodness that could never happen in real l... err... wait a minute...
      • by fredklein (532096)
        The guy then forced the girl into a nearby bush out of sight of the cameras but got spooked by the police sirens and ran off before he could do anything.

        See, that's the problem with cameras- he could EASILY have 'done something' (like slit her throat, or less violently, steal her purse) before the cops got there. If there was an ACTUAL COP on that street, instead of just a camera, then it's doubtful he would have done anything to begin with.
    • by fantomas (94850) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @08:44AM (#20112471)
      5 years ago I was cycling home down a side street in London back to where I lived in one of the not so rich parts of town (Hackney) and 4 teenagers ran up to me and dragged me off my bike, kicked me in, and demanded my wallet. Luckily a woman in a flat overlooking the road saw what was going on and shouted down to tell the kids to stop, and I shouted up for her to call the police. The kids got scared and ran off with my bike (incidently, for the first time in my life, I'd like to say "thank you Nike!" - when I was a teenager Doc Martins and steel toe capped boots were the fashion - I am so happy troubled teenagers prefer soft padded trainers for kicking people in the head these days, probably saved me a lot of damage). I got up just as a Hells Angel kind of guy came past on a motorbike and I flagged him down and asked him to chase the kids - well I started climbing on the back before he could say no! and he spotted the kids going into a dark housing block stairwell. For some mad reason I chased them in, and I think they were so suprised to see me, combined with the fact that I was covered in blood and swearing at them and my friendly biker was outside pointing his headlight in and revving the bike engine, that they let go of the bike and I marched outside (phew, laptop and other valuables still in the panniers). Friendly biker drove his bike alongside me until I was back on the big roads and by chance a French couple were cycling past and stopped to check out I was ok and agreed to cycle home with me.

      When I got back I reported the incident to the police, and got myself sorted out at the local hospital.

      The police had CCTV footage of a lot of the above - but they said the footage was too poor to make a positive identification.

      So there ya go. CCTV didn't stop the crime in progress, and it was completely useless to catch anybody afterwards. What saved me from getting completely beaten up, helped retrieve my possessions, and got me home afterwards was a random mix of good hearted locals and passers by.

      Keep talking to your neighbours and help people you see in trouble, one day it could be you. I don't know any of the names of the people who helped me - but thanks to all of these kind strangers. Don't rely on CCTV, even when they've put it in, it might be useless.

      CCTV in Hackney didn't help me....

      • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        Shame you can't get a concealed carry pistol permit over there like in some parts of the USA. I'm sure after you kneecapped one of the kids, the rest would decide it was a bad idea to mess with you and run away. And the one with a missing kneecap would have a lasting reminder of why being a chav can be painful and unpleasant.

        -b.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by finkployd (12902)
          Carrying a concealed firearm is not an automagic "get out of street crime free" card, you have to know how to use it (under stress, not shooting at paper at the range on a sunny day), and just as important, when to use it. You cannot go kneecapping anyone who makes you nervous on the street, but you also do not want to wait until you are getting pummeled when it would very easy for one or your assailants to disarm and shoot you.

          Also, let's not for a second pretend that the police, media, and public would vi
          • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
            Point being, if you are going to carry a gun, get lots of training (should be mandatory). It should be more/better training that police officers get.


            Agreed with you, disagree about the police part. It should be THE SAME as cops get; but cops should have better training for them mandated. Raise the standards of both cops and the public.


            -b.

          • by fredklein (532096)
            I think that when people use the 'too bad you didn't have a gun' argument, they ASSUME that the person would be trained in the proper use thereof. It's an unstated assumption.
        • Thanks but no thanks pal. I'd not carry a gun even if I was allowed, and I'll vote against any law that says people should be able to carry guns. We have too many guns in the UK as it is, and I don't think the solution to violence is enabling everybody to hurt each other even more.

          If you could get those teenagers found, I'd not turn round to the police and say "please kneecap them". I don't think that will solve the problem. I think that way you end up with somebody who is less likely to get a job because t
    • > For instance, I saw a TV show where the new speaking CCTV cameras interrupted some guy getting the shit kicked out of him. The attacker realised he was on CCTV and ran off. The camera operator simply followed him from one camera to the next, constantly reminding him he's been videotaped, the cops have his description and are en route, and that he really can't get away. He was caught. CCTV is a great technology.

      CCTV is indeed a great technology. Even with a crappy usb camera an old laptop and an always
    • The problem with security cameras lies between the chair and the keyboard. One operator can watch up to eight monitors displaying nine images each for up to twelve minutes. After that he'd better take a half hour patrol, because his brain's mush. Your example is one of those rare moments of serendipity where everything worked. It's not likely to be repeated more than a couple times a year. By the way, very, very few CCTV cameras are installed with audio features unless the vendor happens to be friends
    • by vertinox (846076)
      The cries of "1984! 1984!" are woefully inaccurate, as these cameras are not in our homes, but in our streets, a place the police are 100% free to go. The police have a mandate to use all available technology to protect the public - CCTV is just another tool in the toolbox.

      The problem is that are not if the police misuse the technology, but rather someone down the road who decides to do away with democracy.

      Even though it is minor, these things build up over time so it has to be fought at every step of the w
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by renoX (11677)
      Look, increasing police power to fight the 'bad guys' has the not-so welcome side effect of increasing also the problems caused by the dishonest copq or dishonest politicians at the head of the police..
      If memory serves, not too long ago someone was charged because he was videotaping the police! Don't you notice a little assymetrical situation here? As always, who watch the watcher?

      I'm French and one of our previous president (Mitterand) ordered to intercept phone calls of a famous actress, IMHO he ordered t
    • by fredklein (532096)
      saw a TV show where the new speaking CCTV cameras interrupted some guy getting the shit kicked out of him.

      Firstly, I saw a TV show about the crew of a Starship who met up with (and kicked the ass of )aliens almost every week. The point? TV ain't necessarily real.

      2) It "interrupted" an assault. It did NOT 'Prevent' the assault. A cop ON THE SCENE (as opposed to 20 miles away, snacking on donuts, watching a monitor) might very well have prevented the assault inthe first place.

      The camera operator simply f
  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @08:19AM (#20112363) Homepage Journal
    Those CCTV networks are extremely efficient, esp. when they can also look through your windows and in the next step in 10-20 years they have cameras in your house as well.

    With so much crime-preventing technology everywhere, the criminals will have but one choice: to infiltrate the police...

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @09:03AM (#20112565)
      ... the criminals will have but one choice: to infiltrate the police ...

      But ... that's always been the case. Either they infiltrate the police (difficult but not impossible) or, more commonly, simply buy them off or blackmail them. Either way, cops are supposed to be held to a higher standard but frequently are not.

      Widespread surveillance may have a positive effect on petty crime (or it may not, I've yet to be convinced either way, and even if it does ... is it worth the economic and social costs?) but it will have little effect on the big boys. We could probably get the same effect on the small-time hoods by just putting more cops on the beat, and it would probably cost less money and have less impact on privacy. I don't know, but the blanket assumption that "cameras=less crime" is as unproven as "fewer guns=less crime". I don't trust anything anyone says on either subject, because everyone seems to have an agenda that precludes honest and rational discourse.

      What will probably happen is that the State will find a way to monetize privacy. Don't want a camera in your home? Well then, you'll have to pay a Risk Tax, because, well, everyone knows that people who live unmonitored lives are more likely to commit crimes, and those people should be forced to pay for the social costs of their privacy. Or something like that. I know, go ahead, laugh. Make jokes. But that's the kind of mindset that rules our government(s) these days. I know this is America, but I've long since shed my comfortable belief that bad things can't happen here, because too many of them already have.

      Really, it's time to take the rose-colored glasses off and see the people in power for who they truly are. It ain't pretty.
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)
      esp. when they can also look through your windows

      Except that the output from the cameras is taped, the ID of the camera operator is logged, and it's a *criminal offence* to use them to look through people's windows, at least in the UK. Yes, people have been convicted of it. No, they're not out of jail yet.
  • Those people blow themselves up when they attack! What will the cam do but record it for the evening news? Yell at him "stop, or I record you!"?

    Cameras don't prevent crimes. No single camera in history stopped a junkie from taking a granny's purse. No camera will ever prevent a terrorist attack.
  • by redelm (54142) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @09:15AM (#20112609) Homepage
    ... and not just with CCTV but the whole law enforcement system, cops through courts to jail. Punishment is a grossly net-negative payoff exercise. Stopping crime in progress not only requires CCTV and many operators, but a large ready-reaction [idle] police force. Expensive and more likely to get into mischief.

    Privacy is a right based on defending yourself against prejudice and [info]predators. It is not any right to break the law. There is no right to break the law if you won't get caught.

    In a public place, a reasonable person has no expectation of privacy and ought to conduct themselves to public standards. There might be an expectation of anonymity in our modern big cities. Historically unusual and decried. While anonymous writing is protected (but can be pierced), anonymous actions cannot be without lawlessness.

  • by defile (1059) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @10:10AM (#20112945) Homepage Journal

    I think a massive surveillance camera network would create a safer, more open society so long as one key condition is met: the public and the police share access. I should be able to hit nyc.gov and view any camera at any time, including past recordings. Give me that and the police can install as many cameras as they want.

    • by jeorgen (84395)
      I should be able to hit nyc.gov and view any camera at any time, including past recordings. Give me that and the police can install as many cameras as they want.

      But in that case the organization with the best algorithms and hardware will win over you. Google?

    • I think a massive surveillance camera network would create a safer, more open society
      ... where the citizens are afraid of every move they make. Great world to live in. What the fuck are we doing?

      Kill the leaders and start over.
  • Prevent Terrorism? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Smarty2120 (776415) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @10:21AM (#20113005)
    It's always a prevent terrorism vs. protect privacy argument by politicians, but for the most part, this is a fallacy. The cameras can't physically stop people from committing crime any more than the RFID scanners at the mall keep you from shoplifting. It's the threat of those devices alerting authorities nearby enough to stop or apprehend you that makes a difference. In all likelihood, these cameras will be deployed with no additional manpower to do anything in real time with the information. They'll likely just help authorities prosecute crimes after the fact or figure out what occurred (as happened with the London transit bombings). When you ask people about this privacy vs. prosecution tradeoff (if there's anyone left to prosecute), many fewer people respond "put us on camera" than when you claim it can help "prevent terrorism."

    The best part is that the system will protect the new Freedom Tower. It's not a Ring of Steel, it's a Ring of Freedom. I don't think we've taken the Freedom Fries legacy far enough. We should have Freedom Checkpoints at the airport, and Freedom Routers to sniff our e-mail, and Freedom Inquiries into our financial records. We spread Freedom all over Iraq and look how well it turned out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is no question that CCTV recordings have been useful in the prosecution of crime here in the UK (just go down to the average court room and see how often CCTV is used in evidence). Occasionally cameras have detected crime in progress, and allowed dispatch of police. And ANPR (automatic numberplate recognition) cameras may help with detection, deterrence and intelligence.

    The question is, at what price ? Is the erosion of our liberty (our right to go about our lawful business without the state intruding
    • by dave420 (699308)
      "Intruding" is not the same as being watched. The CCTV operators aren't asking you where you're going or what you're going to do when you get there, they're just looking at what you're doing on the street. That's not eroding your liberty in the slightest. Do you demand police officers on the street don't look at you as you pass?
  • and the cops run them
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    Time to start wearing a fake beard anytime im outside, just to piss them off.
  • This is getting a little out of hand; painting 7-11s to look like Kwik-E-Marts was one thing, but this is a bit too far. Guys, I've already seen Bourne Ultimatum, don't need this stunt...
  • Almost useless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In order to these network of cameras prevent terrorist attack, the police should already know a suspect face, a suspect license plate, etc. to trigger an alert before the disaster.

    Needless to say, that suicide bombers will be most likely not on a watch list (if they are there already, they are supposedly more closely followed anyway). It's easy to rent or buy a vehicle totally legally - again there is nothing to raise the flag before. Again, if there is a specific intelligence on specific persons there are
  • So what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ibm1130 (123012)
    The vast majority of police work is forensic in nature. So what if the cameras don't result in the suspect being nabbed while the crime is in progress. Whether the suspect is nabbed on the scene or elsewhere the fact remains they were identified and apprehended. Good luck arguing "I din't do it" when the camera has you on the scene and in the act. I don't expect privacy in a public place and if I'm somewhere I ought not to be doing something illegal any right to privacy is, I would argue, overidden by publi
  • At last (Score:2, Funny)

    by rastoboy29 (807168)
    we'll finally be safe. Now if we could just get a network of surveillance cameras covering every square foot of the United States! That would be great.
  • Geez... our infrastructure is falling apart and instead of fixing the 80 year old steam lines, sewers, and electric cables it is time to invest in a DIGITAL CAMERA network. At least the odds are that a camera will get a good shot of the next exploding steam line, collapsing bridge, or truck eating sink hole. Well, unless of course the power is out because the electrical grid is down, but I am sure these cameras will have the finest battery backups.

    The Department of Homeland security budget has clearly
  • I absolutely hate London's spy cam network. I find it sick. I expect this of England historically but i do not expect us to copy them! Didnt we fight to not be like England?

    America is dead. I like England in general, so i guess its not all that bad hehehe... I for one welcome our all seeing, all knowing, constitution killing, lobbiest controlled government.
  • plain, nondescript hoodies to be the new hot fashion in the Big Apple!!
  • Anyone else read that as, Steven Swain from the London Metropolitan Police States? ;)
  • by herbierobinson (183222) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @02:27PM (#20123511) Homepage
    I wonder how they plan on keeping the cameras from being stolen? :-)

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