Use of Surveillance cameras: privacy protection and public use

Use of Surveillance cameras: privacy protection and public use

CCTV cameras are a common sight in most public places in many European countries. Highways streets are one such place that these devices are prevalent

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CCTV cameras are a common sight in most public places in many European countries. Highways streets are one such place that these devices are prevalent. The population generally appreciates their role as a security measure, but there are instances where these cameras intrude on a citizen’s private life as they live their lives.

The role of these cameras gained a new level of confidence from law enforcers and the general public in April 2013, when the two suspects of Boston Marathon terrorist attack were recognized by detectives through CCTV footage.

There are however imminent questions that need to be addressed regarding, public use of CCTV, privacy and protection policies.

Who is in charge of governing and operating?

Who defines the boundaries of public interest? And once you are sitting in front of the camera, knowingly or unknowingly, how do you know who is watching you? Who is in charge of ensuring that cameras owned by individuals do not serve malicious intent on nearby premises? Should the cameras owned by individual in homes and offices be handled the same way as those set up by the government in public places? How can you tell if the end of public interest is not the beginning of aggravation? In a way, there is no difference between the surveillance cameras and peeping tom.

You should not be concerned if you are innocent

The main purpose for the CCTV cameras is to prevent crime from happening. In case the crime has already taken place, the investigators rely on footage from these cameras to apprehend the culprits. There are people who feel that the cameras in public areas are more of a stalker than a protector. This is not the case. Their sole intent is to ensure your property and your life in well protected from possible theft or harm.

Why surveillance cameras should be installed.

You are bound to feel much safer if you know there are CCTV cameras around you, since a potential attacker will most likely cut short their mission when they know they are being watched. Devices in the present day are able to zoom in pictures for facial recognition and this is critical especially in kidnapping cases, where the detectives have a good place to start in the efforts of bringing a loved one safely back to you.

The opinions against

Some feel that their rights are being encroached and the government is using this ploy of safety and protection to be able to spy on its citizens. There are those who do not believe in their effectiveness, quoting an incident in New York, where a victim died after his stabbing incident was captured by 3 cameras. The police patrolling the streets are a much stronger assurance for safety and protection as opposed to the CCTV cameras, one could argue.

Regulation and regulating bodies

Campaigners for and against the discussion of surveillance cameras invasion of privacy should consider various aspects as far as regulation of the use of these cameras are concerned. For instance, the camera should not be installed facing areas such as washrooms, bedrooms etc. Proper training for those monitoring the surveillance system should be done and punitive measures put in place for those exploiting the recorded footage. Human resource and technology should be used hand in hand in the surveillance process. The police should continue with patrolling the streets as the citizens continue with community policing.

It is possible to have a positive correlation between the CCTV cameras and the public, as long as the implementation is handled responsibly.