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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, April 21

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vise77 / November 22, 2011 1:52 PM

The Orwell fan club--those who've read maybe a book-and-half by him, no more--will revoke my membership, but I fail to see how this is an invasion or privacy when 1) private cameras are everywhere, including but not limited to ATMs, retails stores and gas stations; and 2) we so easily give up our privacy via social networks, GPS on mobile phones and inside our cars, credit cards, online retail purchases and various technologies related to all that--not to mention blogs and just running our mouths constantly. (We as a society have lost the ability to just shut the fuck up from time to time.)

That said, I doubt the security benefits are all that great, though we need at least a decade more of data and experience to know that.

I suspect these cameras provide, at most, a mildly positive aid--think court cases and post-crime identification, not prevention--but constitute NO real invasion of privacy, not even close, simply because enough of us have already given away our privacy a long time ago.

Dennis Fritz / November 22, 2011 8:56 PM

There's little evidence they increase security; however, there is some evidence they help diminish people's respect for privacy. Ultimately, the spread of cameras is more a marketing triumph for security companies than anything else.

Bambi / November 24, 2011 8:01 AM

Not all the cameras are live but the ones that are in my, hood Pilsen,have helped. Drunk hit and runs have been caught,gang incidents and more. I am all for them.If you don't break the law why should you care?Guess what.We have willingly stepped beyond what some call Big Brother mentality. Think that is just in some peoples heads.No disrespect intended.

JasonB / November 25, 2011 10:41 AM

See what London has to say, about their effectiveness.

I suppose they could help in preventing crime against a stationary target (such as an automobile or shop). Aside from that, it's a waste of money for a city that has no money to spare.

As far as the "violation of privacy" noise goes: unless I'm misunderstanding the argument; your Facebook account is 100x the violation of privacy, as are the countless tracker cookies that you accumulate as your surf the web. In this day/age, I think that we're overly critical/sensitive (and probably hypocritical & contradictory) on the subject. Is there a difference between a govt agency, magazine, news-media, shopping mall, or amateur photographer/videographer taking the photo/video? Sure, but regardless of whether or not the gov't has cameras up, they'll still get your mug from somewhere.

JasonB / November 25, 2011 10:52 AM

I guess GP doesn't allow links here anymore. If anyone is interested; a link that I posted in my reply above pointed to a BBC article stating that the 1,000,000+ cameras that they have stationed throughout London solved only 1,000 crimes in 1yr.

Andrew Huff / November 25, 2011 3:08 PM

We do allow links, but if you post more than one or two in a comment, it'll trigger our spam sieve. However, the issue on your comment was that you pasted <a href=1,000 cameras 'solve one crime'>, not a link. Want to try sharing the URL again?

JasonB / November 26, 2011 5:26 AM

oops. 1,000 Cameras Solve one crime

Though, now that I've had time to think about it and better understand the somewhat misleading nature of the title/article - a thousand crimes solved (with the aid of CCTV) isn't all bad. I guess their beef with the initiative was more about its massive cost and slow/ineffective integration within criminal investigations.

paul / November 27, 2011 8:05 PM

Does privacy out on the streets of a city exist?

As long as the city doesn't start mailing tickets to my house for jay-walking, I'm all for them.

I was present at one situation where cameras may have prevented an incident: a pedestrian almost got hit crossing a street by an obvious drunk in a pick-up truck. The pedestrian gave the guy the finger, and the driver, insulted into a rage, screeched to a stop, got out holding a billy club, and ran towards the guy.

I was crossing the street right after the near miss, and yelled at the guy that if he was going to do anything, the camera up on that light pole, would catch it. Mr. Drunkguy got back in the truck and sped off.
There weren't any cameras in view, but it seemed to work.

You hear the story about the cameras in NYC a few years ago? They installed a bunch of expensive Nikon DSLRs in boxes on poles, and a team came around with a rented cherry picker and stole them all.

eric / November 28, 2011 8:52 PM

I like 'em. Install more.

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