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Are security cameras worth the invasion of privacy?

Credit: The New York Times

Security Cameras Make Us Feel Safe, but Are They Worth the Invasion?

Except from The New York Times (accessible text):

Proponents of the camera program say the goal is to make the public safer. Officials in the mayor’s office cite examples like the city’s Western Addition district, where shootings were rampant in the 1990s but dropped after the installation of city-owned cameras in the mid-2000s. They also point to cases in which cameras have led to crimes being solved, as in San Jose, Calif., where surveillance footage helped the police identify a group accused of robbing a bakery in August.

“This is another tool to address significant public safety challenges,” said Parisa Safarzadeh, the mayor’s press secretary. “We want to hold those who break the law accountable.”

Opponents of the ordinance, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say research has shown that cameras do little to reduce crime. A study from New York University, for one, found that cameras installed in two privately owned apartment complexes in New York City were an ineffective crime deterrent.

Matt Guariglia, a policy analyst at the foundation, which publicly protested the legislation before the city’s Board of Supervisors approved it in a 7-to-4 vote, said San Francisco’s ordinance posed threats to consumer privacy. Although the legislation requires the police to get permission from camera owners before viewing live footage, he said, the police have been able to obtain Ring recordings directly from Amazon.

A Ring spokeswoman confirmed that the company provided camera data to law enforcement when required by court orders, and that it had provided footage to the police in extreme cases, like kidnappings, without a court order.

Posted by Steve on May 6, 2023 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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