People Want Big Brother To Watch Them

At least that’s what a recent ABC News poll seems to suggest:

Crime-fighting beats privacy in public places: Americans, by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, support the increased use of surveillance cameras — a measure decried by some civil libertarians, but credited in London with helping to catch a variety of perpetrators since the early 1990s.

Given the chief arguments, pro and con — a way to help solve crimes vs. too much of a government intrusion on privacy — it isn’t close: 71 percent of Americans favor the increased use of surveillance cameras, while 25 percent oppose it.

London’s surveillance network, known as the “Ring of Steel,” is said to have aided in the capture of suspects, including those accused of a pair of attempted car bombings in June.

A similar system is coming to New York City, which plans 100 new surveillance cameras in downtown Manhattan by year’s end and 3,000 — public and private — by 2010. Chicago and Baltimore plan expanded surveillance systems as well.

And, apparently, to a city near you soon after that.

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  • UCrawford

    As long as it doesn’t become some sort of federally-mandated program, I don’t actually see a problem with installing cameras in public places. The expectation to privacy is minimal in a public place, the cameras record the actions of both the public and the police (helping to combat police brutality as well as catching criminals), cameras are more effective than eyewitnesses (resulting in better prosecutions with less faulty or compromised testimony), and in the long-term I’d imagine that the cameras would be less expensive than putting a cop on every corner (you don’t have to pay salary, medical, disability, and retirement to a camera…just the occasional repair and replacements costs). Keep the cameras out of our homes and leave implementation of these programs at the state and local level and I don’t think there’s much of an argument that this is prelude to the Big Brother state.