Monday, February 18, 2008

Alarmed, But Not Alert

NSW Police are planning to set up a database of every closed circuit security camera location in the state. The idea is simple enough… businesses both large and small already have cameras operating inside and outside of their premises which can provide critical video evidence in the event of a crime being committed. If all the locations are listed on a central database, the police will be able to access and source these pictures more quickly.

It has already been demonstrated overseas that the idea can provide significant assistance to an investigation, quickly and effectively. The London bombings of 2005 are cited as a prime example of video cameras being instrumental in retracing the movements of offenders and tracking them down. There is also some evidence to suggest that the presence of cameras in any given area may also help prevent some crime from happening in the first place.

Despite the fact that many people feel safer knowing that public places are monitored on security cameras, some are concerned about privacy issues. Some are also concerned about civil liberties implications, and the inevitable references to “Big Brother” are brought out again. Of course, “Big Brother” refers to a scenario where an oppressive government keeps its population under constant surveillance, even in their homes, to prevent any kind of uprising.

What the NSW Police are proposing here is not a “Big Brother” scenario. The cameras already exist. They are already watching your every move. They are doing so in public places, where your privacy is not invaded. The plan to create the database won’t change any of that.

You might want to be careful though about where you stand if you pick your nose.

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