Archive for the ‘Government cameras’ Category

My Camera Editorial Advisory Board comment on Aug. 11, 2007, in response to the Camera’s  question: London’s use of cameras in public places and Congress’ passage of the warrantless-wiretapping bill raise a larger, underlying question: What is the appropriate balance between Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights and the nation’s need for security?

While national security issues drive the current debate over government-controlled cameras in public places and warrantless wiretapping, so should American citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights. We need to strongly protect those rights to protect America’s way of life. As set forth in the Fourth Amendment, we have the right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Warrants are issued only upon probable cause then describe the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. If we want to remain a strong nation, we cannot afford to stray from that. Our choices are not between life with no rights or no life.

It’s true that monitored cameras may thwart terrorists and warrantless wiretappings may uncover plots. It’s also true that cameras make some people feel safer. Then, once unlawful acts have been committed, images may help us discover who did them. However, there is a big downside. Cameras may not stop one single terrorist act while at the same time government collects lots of information it doesn’t need on law-abiding citizens. Citizens value their privacy, their ability to move about in their lives without government scrutiny. Some trust the government to use this information in their personal best interest. If so, will it always? Then, who isn’t to say terrorists and other criminals won’t just go to sites without cameras until eventually cameras are deemed essential everywhere?

If cameras ever get installed in the United States in public places like Great Britain has opted to do in London, I hope public outcry gets them removed before the lenses can focus on even one innocent American. I’ve smiled at cameras at the grocery store and elsewhere more than I like already.

*This title was not part of the original Camera publication.

Source: Daily Camera

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