By Andree Toonk | May 18, 2007
Two weeks ago I walked out of my door going to work and noticed something new in my street. Then I noticed that my street now was being monitored by our local police force. My new neighbor is a surveillance camera!
Surveillance cameras supposedly “prevent,” “fight” or “reduce” crime. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I assume they are probably helping in reducing crime. However, we should think about the price we are paying for that, i.e. our privacy!
One of the arguments I often hear is, I do not mind those cameras, because I don’t have anything to hide or to be afraid of. Well I got news for you! you do have to be afraid of something: surveillance cameras in public places are colliding with our precious privacy rights. Surveillance cameras seem to be placed everywhere nowadays and I sometimes wonder if there’s actually a real purpose for all of them. Could it be that the police is just installing them because they think it’s in interesting position, or do they actually have good reasons? In the past decade, successive UK governments have installed over 1.5 million cameras in response to terrorist bombings. The average Londoner is estimated to have their picture recorded more than three hundred times a day. How about my privacy?
In The Netherlands some of those cameras are able to move around, focus, and lately I heard of an experiment with camera’s that are equipped with microphones. This enables them to detect aggressive situations. The newest versions even talk back to you. So in a short time we moved from passive monitoring to more active monitoring. And that’s one of the things which bothers me the most, every year they go one step further. It starts with test, those are always successful and then the new technology will be used everywhere. This is a process which will proceed for the next years, where does it stop? What do you think?
What do they do with the recorded tapes? Is my privacy guaranteed? Are they sure it’s not leaked to the ‘evil’ outside world? I just did a quick search for police cameras in my hometown on youtube.com. Guess what? A fight was recorded by police cameras and somehow ended up on the Internet: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=utrecht+%2B+politie+camera&search=Search
No, I do not having anything to hide from the government or the police force, but does that mean they should be able to follow my every footstep?