All Articles Tagged "surveillance cameras"
(Chicago Sun Times) — Chicago’s blue-light cameras have become a fixture in high-crime neighborhoods since they were first installed in 2001, but do they really deter crime and help prosecutors convict criminals? A study being released Monday gives the surveillance cameras a mixed review, saying they appear to have prevented crime in one neighborhood but not in another — and that the video quality is usually poor and rarely leads to a conviction on its own. The Urban Institute focused on Chicago Police Department cameras in sections of Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park. Crime there was compared with crime in similar areas without the cameras. The study found crime decreased more than 12 percent — or 38 fewer crimes per month — in the Humboldt Park study area from 2001 to 2006. The researchers found crime didn’t appear to migrate from the study area into the surrounding neighborhood.
(AJC) — Big Brother is coming to Atlanta. Or is it a watchful eye that will make walking city streets safer? On Monday, the Atlanta City Council approved a measure to network and monitor thousands of public and privately owned security cameras throughout Atlanta. The cameras and images will be part of a new multi-million dollar video integration center, designed to compile and analyze footage from the network. To start, images from as many as 500 cameras — some city-owned and some private – are expected to flow into the center, providing images from Piedmont Park to Underground Atlanta. The center will use software that can identify “suspicious” behavior and allow monitors to quickly deploy public safety personnel. The software is also capable of pinpointing where gunshots originate from.
The enigmatic dictator of the totalitarian regime featured in the George Orwell novel and movie, “1984,” may only seem like an imagined conspiracy; but, as our government and other entities begin using more technology to track citizens and their movements, you have to wonder if we are trading in our right to privacy for the latest and greatest in new technology.
For instance, last week the Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to review a case that would allow the government, without a court warrant, to affix GPS devices on a suspect’s vehicle in order to track their every move until they commit a crime. Yes, that’s right. The government wants to play Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” and nail you for crimes that you haven’t even committed yet.
The request stems from a 2001 case in which Antoine Jones, a D.C. nightclub owner and suspected cocaine dealer, was tracked for an entire month without a warrant. Authorities used the information collected from the GPS surveillance to create probable cause and obtain warrants to search and find drugs in location where Jones had been. Jones was sentenced to life in prison because of this information.
However, a D.C. Court of Appeals overturned Jones’ conviction, saying that the use of a secret GPS tracking device on his vehicle for one month violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. But now the Justice Department is demanding that the Supreme Court reverse the Appeals decision, suggesting that “a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movement from one place to another” in a public setting.
As technology becomes more pervasive in society, so will issues of privacy and police surveillance. Although the Fourth Amendment protects the right to privacy and the right to freedom from arbitrary invasion, there isn’t a clear definition as to whether or not this constitutional right extends to new technologies. As such, government agencies, as well as local authorities, have used technology to build criminal drug and terrorism cases. After September 11th, Congress and former President Bush enacted legislation, including the U.S. Patriot Act, to allow law enforcement to search e-mail and telephone communications, in addition to medical, financial and library records.
But these acts have not come without its complications—in March, a suit was brought against the FBI by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who claimed that the FBI illegally used a GPS tracking device to track the movements of a California Muslim student. Recently, controversy erupted over the Michigan State Police’s use of handheld gadgets, known as an “extraction device,” which can lift every lick of data from a mobile phone.
But it’s not just law enforcement that’s been using GPS for surveillance. The private sector has also been using GPS to track employees, such as truck drivers and postal workers. This new form of shadowing has become easier thanks in part to devices like smartphones, which are being equipped with a chip that could be tracking a user’s location and data without them even knowing it. With the omnipresence of license plate readers by parking authorities, and video cameras with face-recognition technology affixed to light poles in heavily crime ridden areas, we’ve been turned into a society of around the clock surveillance.
With the Justice Department’s use of dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, corporations using similar tactics on their own employees and the persistent use of cell phones by ordinary citizens, it is clear that our collective freedom to privacy is being usurped by our need to build and use technology, which knows no limits. As we enter this new age of transparency, it’s important that we also maintain our respect for our individual civil liberties. If not, than we might as well local the doors, pull the curtains in and wait for Skynet to fully be enacted.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(AJC) — Someday very soon, if you stroll through Piedmont Park, travel the Downtown Connector, hit one of the bars or restaurants in Midtown or visit the Georgia Dome or the Philips Arena, you’ll have an invisible companion: the Atlanta Police Department. This spring, the department will open a video integration center designed to compile and analyze footage from thousands of public and private security cameras throughout the city. Images from as many as 500 cameras in downtown and Midtown are expected to be flowing into the center by mid-summer.
Several metro Atlanta police agencies use cameras to bolster public safety, but the city’s new venture, which will integrate data supplied by private entities such as CNN, America’s Mart and Midtown Blue as well as public agencies such as the Federal Reserve, MARTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation, represents a whole new level of electronic surveillance.
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner pointed to the case of Charles Boyer, gunned down outside a Virginia-Highland apartment building in November, to show what cameras can do. Footage from a security camera, which captured images of men refueling a vehicle similar to one described by witnesses to the shooting, contributed to the arrest five days later of the three men charged with Boyer’s murder. “How successful were we in solving that crime because of the video we had?” Turner asked in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s an example of how this will work.”
(AP) — Chicago emergency management officials defended the city’s expansive network of cameras following a scathing report from a leading civil rights group that raised concerns about the loss of privacy, a lack of regulation and fears the technology could violate the First Amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois called for a full review of the system — with at least 10,000 cameras mounted at locations from skyscrapers to utility poles — saying city officials won’t release basic information such as the exact number and cost of the cameras, nor any incidents of misuse. Those concerns, along with city officials’ plans for expansion, put Chicago a step closer to a Big Brother invasion of privacy, the ACLU said. ”Chicago’s camera network invades the freedom to be anonymous in public places, a key aspect of the fundamental American right to be left alone,” according to the report released Tuesday. “Each of us then will wonder whether the government is watching and recording us when we walk into a psychiatrist’s office, a reproductive health care center, a political meeting, a theater performance, or a book store.” The system, which started less than a decade ago, was called the most extensive and integrated camera network of any U.S. city by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Chicago police have praised the cameras’ use, and Mayor Richard Daley has even called for cameras to be installed on every city corner to help fight crime. Police and Daley have said the cameras help authorities respond more quickly and have led to more than 4,000 arrests. City officials responded later Tuesday to the ACLU’s report, saying the cameras help police, are used in a public way and are monitored.
(Chicago Sun Times) — The American Civil Liberties Union is urging the city to order a moratorium on expanding its video-surveillance system and is calling on new rules to safeguard citizens’ privacy. Chicago’s network of more than 10,000 public and private surveillance cameras is already the most extensive and integrated in the nation. Most aldermen appear to like it that way because of the sense of security that cameras can bring to residents of high-crime neighborhoods. Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, scoffed at the demand for a halt in installing new cameras. “Anyone who’s had a tour of the 911 center would agree that surveillance cameras are one of the most effective tools in law enforcement today and it seems like they’re very popular with the local residents,” said Burke, a former Chicago Police officer. “I wouldn’t want to see anything that would interfere with what the Police Department has been able to achieve in reduction of crime. A large part of that is using technology to supplement personnel,” he added.