Theres No Privacy Interest in Public

Opinion: Surveillance cameras that monitor public places don't violate anyone's privacy because nobody has an expectation of privacy out on the street.

I get burned up when I see public surveillance cameras referred to with the term "Big Brother" as in this news story.

Referring to cameras such as those described in the article in this way trivializes actual totalitarianism. I dont buy every factual claim in the story, but its clear that such cameras can do a lot of good, and they violate nobodys rights.

Theres an important characteristic of these cameras when theyre done right: They only monitor public places, such as a street or a park. Yes, its possible to make cameras that observe private places, but thats not whats usually done, and its not what the whole idea is.

1984, on the other hand, describes a society in which the observation is constant and ever-present. On the street, at work, in your bedroom, wherever you may go, Big Brother was watching.

Theres a really important difference here blithely ignored by those who abuse the image of Big Brother.

If you find a public surveillance camera objectionable, ask yourself this: Would you object to having a police officer standing in the same spot, just looking at the scene?

The way I see it, at any one point in time they are exactly the same thing.

I want you all to tell me: What right of yours is being violated by being observed in public by a camera?

If you do object to having a police office there then at least youre consistent, but your position is probably a radical one not shared by most law-abiding citizens.

I have no doubt that the residents of Lenox Avenue in East Orange, N.J., just a couple of towns away from where I live, wish there were police on their street 24 hours a day, and it wouldnt bother me in my own neighborhood.

If you dont object to an actual police officer, then what are the differences? The camera is operating continuously, as opposed to a human, whose attention can be broken.

Ive heard assertions that cameras dont work, that they just move the crime elsewhere. The camera system can keep a record of the video. Then theres just the whole "inhuman" thing.

That the camera is more efficient than a human is just another example of technology improving the work of people, in this case police officers.

Its one thing to oppose police abuse, its another to oppose police efficiency.

Next Page: Are they effective?