The United States: land of the free and home of the brave. But how free can one really be if one’s every move is being monitored?
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is a surveillance system that has been seen in use more frequently across the United States, and in more public areas specifically. To many, upping public surveillance can seem like an invasion of privacy.
According to vintechnology.com, since 1996, the United Kingdom has seen a rise in CCTV cameras, surveilling around 41 percent of public property with around 1.85 million cameras, and this was as of 2011. While America might not have quite as many eyes on them at all times, the average American is most likely caught on camera far more than he or she realizes.
Personally, I think there is a fine line between protecting citizens, property and businesses and the invasion of privacy. I feel as though pushing security cameras everywhere could create a false sense of security of sorts.
People could feel as though an authority is looking over them, and while this could perhaps deter crime in surveilled areas, it could also lead citizens into letting their guard down. I personally don’t favor random people and authorities I don’t know having myself, my family or friends on tape at their disposable; I feel a slight discomfort at that idea.
On the other hand, CCTV can lead to better identification of criminals and increase accountability of crimes, both large and small. If citizens are having to deal with constant surveillance, I think it is very important for them to be aware of where surveillance cameras are and also who is operating them, whether that be a public or private institution. That would be the very least people deserve to know, as transparency would be very important to me in accepting the fact that I was being filmed multiple times a day.
I can understand why businesses would use surveillance, to possibly prevent shoplifting or vandalism. I think pushing so much surveillance in so many public places would really be an invasion of privacy.
However, some people argue the effectiveness of CCTV at deterring crime overall. Would criminals just shift out of the camera’s eye, pushing crime and shady business further into the shadows?
According to ABC News, the cameras have been “effective at documenting crime, [but] less effective at reducing it.” They also state police commonly view surveillance and CCTV as just one forensic tool used to cut crime, as many studies haven’t shown a significant reduction in the crimes actually happening. More actual convictions have been made though it seems, and I think that is important to consider in deciding whether you are for or against surveillance.
As Americans, I think citizens should have some say in whether or not these systems are put into place before they actually are. People need to decide between feeling safer or having privacy in their neighborhoods. I feel as though most people would not like the idea of their neighborhoods and other places near their own homes being surveilled, as that is a private space for most people.
Meridith King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org