Technological progress has made such surveillance and control methods possible that would appear as science-fiction a couple decades ago: satellites, electronic chips, Internet databases, and so on. However, the progress goes faster than consumers and government agencies are able to adopt and accept novelties, and thus conflicts regarding privacy and the appropriateness of control methods can arise. One of the most debated issues at current is whether or not surveillance through security cameras has negative effects on the public.
Though crime cameras have proved themselves to be an effective tool for fighting street and organized crime, concerns about their wide use still remain. Nancy La Vigne, the director of Chicago’s Justice Policy Center, says camera systems are often believed to be violating citizens’ constitutionally-protected right to privacy when they are used to identify non-lawbreakers (SmartPlanet). Though there are rules limiting cameras’ possibilities (for example, they should not be able to pan, tilt, and zoom in order not to look into the windows of the apartment buildings or backyards), how can one be sure they are not watched and these rules are observed? Surveys show about 23% of U.S. citizens tend to believe security cameras violate their privacy (Rasmussen Reports).
Opponents of surveillance also stress the fact that security cameras can evoke negative emotions in citizens, and make them feel like they are being constantly watched and controlled. This refers both to adults, who already have an established system of views on the state, the government, and the society—and children, who are in the process of developing such a system. A senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, Jay C. Stanley, thinks “Constant surveillance, from the time children enter school to the time they leave, teaches the wrong thing about the relationship between the citizen and the government in a democratic society.” Stated succinctly, children may believe the State has a right to interfere in the private lives of its citizens, and being under control and surveillance is a norm (Association of American Educators).
Citizens sensitive to civil liberties can find surveillance through cameras extremely uncomfortable and stressing. Usually, these are people who are extremely passionate about the privacy of their lives, or about their personal security; the proponents of left-wing political and conspiracy theories also tend to treat surveillance cameras negatively, as a tool of the State oppressing its citizens. Also, people with psychological disorders—for example those with paranoid tendencies—can display severe disturbance about the fact of being watched.
Though surveillance cameras are meant to help protect citizens from street and organized crime, and are an effective tool of monitoring, there exist several issues concerning privacy and ethics. Thus, about 23% of people in the U.S. believe surveillance cameras violate their rights in regard to privacy. Children under constant surveillance (at schools, for example) are believed to adopt a wrong understanding of the relationship between the citizens and the government. In addition, the fact of observance can cause severe stress in individuals sensitive to civil liberties.
“23% Think Surveillance Cameras have Violated Their Privacy – Rasmussen Reports™.” Rasmussen Reports. N.p., 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 July 2013. <http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/april_2013/23_think_surveillance_cameras_have_violated_their_privacy>
Sherwood, Christina Hernandez. “Surveillance Cameras: An Eye for an Eye?” SmartPlanet. N.p., 05 June 2012. Web. 10 July 2013. <http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/surveillance-cameras-an-eye-for-an-eye/8134>
“Cameras in Schools: Extra Safety Measure or Violation of Privacy?” Association of American Educators. N.p., 04 June 2013. Web. 10 July 2013. <http://www.aaeteachers.org/index.php/blog/1050-cameras-in-schools-extra-safety-measure-or-violation-of-privacy->
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