It's not candid; cameras may be looking

You'd better watch it because something may be watching you. Whether you're at the mall, the automated teller machine, or driving down the highway, a surveillance camera may be stationed somewhere nearby, monitoring your every move. Cameras are stationed all over the place as property and business owners, along with police and schools, attempt to deter theft, crime and other mishaps by keeping a watchful eye through a hidden lens [...]

As much as they can be useful, some believe they also are misused and lead to privacy problems. In New York City, for example, there are at least 15,000 cameras taping the public in Manhattan alone. This has groups like the New York City-based Surveillance Camera Players, a decade-old camera watchdog group, working to shed light on the increase in surveillance cameras worldwide.

Bill Brown, director and co-founder, said it's not the cameras on private property they have a problem with; the concern is with the public ones that spy on everyday, law-abiding citizens. Every so often, SCP members put on performances in front of publicly installed cameras to show people that the cameras are there, and to show authorities that someone else is watching. They've also mapped out camera locations around Manhattan, and provide walking tours of them for the public.

"We're absolutely against them in public places, not in private places, because it's private property. We don't think they actually help in fighting terrorism or crime and in the meantime, they just invade people's privacy."

Because the group has been watching the number of public cameras increase since 1996, Brown doesn't believe they have much to do with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and even so, he said cameras aren't a solution for lethal crime or terrorism.

"If you're going to be so concerned about crime and terrorism, let's get to the root of these problems rather than high-tech Band-aids. If a suicide bomber comes to the subway, virtually nothing is going to stop them. It's too late" [...]

(Written by Larissa Theodore and published in the 2 January 2006 issue of the Beaver County Times, Pennsylvania.)

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

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By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998