We are told that the use of surveillance cameras enjoys widespread support among "the public." But this information is false: the opposition to surveillance cameras (among individuals, small groups, parents, unionized workers and other "ordinary citizens") is far deeper and more extensive than commonly thought. One only has to keep up with the news being reported from around the world, which is precisely what we plan to do here, on this page, in chronological order. (Click here for a listing of outright abuses of camera technology, and here for a listing of reports citing the ineffectiveness of video surveillance as a "crime-fighting" tool.)
5 March 2002, Hawaii USA: "'Talivan' Alert: Hawaii Drivers Aren't Smiling About Candid Cameras."
HONOLULU - Some Hawaii drivers mockingly call them the "talivans," and radio disc jockeys take wicked delight in announcing the location of the vehicles. The Hawaii Transportation Department has begun using van-mounted cameras to catch speeders in the act - a practice some motorists consider so underhanded they are trying to subvert the system. The cameras, introduced on Oahu two months ago and operated by a private company, are coupled with radar and automatically photograph a speeder's license plate. A ticket is then issued by mail to the car's owner. The devices are supposed to catch violators the way red-light cameras have been doing for years, without the danger of a police chase. Proponents say that the system will save lives and that it has already proved itself by slowing down traffic.
Drivers and civil liberties lawyers complain that the system unfairly assumes that the owner of the car was the person behind the wheel. They also say that the cameras are an invasion of privacy and that the state is more interested in speeding-ticket revenue than safety. "It's pretty crazy. Unless they can really identify you and everything, I think it's a pretty worthless situation," said 44-year-old John McGee, who beat his ticket on a technicality.
Even lawmakers who supported the project are having second thoughts. The Senate this week is expected to vote to repeal the program. House lawmakers on Friday voted to require clearer photographic evidence of who was driving. Republican state Rep. Charles Djou called the program "an unreasonable intrusion by government into individual lives. Many of my constituents have complained to me that this photo enforcement system is sort of a 'gotcha' law enforcement," he said. "It is a high-tech bounty hunter system that captures not only the lawbreakers but also law-abiding citizens."
Many states use cameras to catch people running through red lights. Only about a dozen communities - in Hawaii, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, D.C. - are using the cameras to try to catch speeders, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. City officials in Denver last week suspended their program and dismissed all tickets after a judge ruled that the system illegally gave police powers to a private contractor. The judge also ruled that the program violated state law by appearing to compensate the contractor based on the volume of tickets issued.
Hawaii, which has only three short freeways, is the first state to pass a statewide law allowing photo-enforced radar along state roads. But about 200 tickets have been thrown out so far because of technical glitches and legal loopholes big enough to drive a truck through. Many were dismissed because the tickets did not specifically state that the person issuing the ticket - the camera operator - was certified to run the radar equipment. That problem was later fixed. Last week, a judge threw out dozens more tickets, ruling that drivers going less than 10 mph over the speed limit should not be ticketed because doing so would conflict with Honolulu Police Department practice.
Some radio stations and newspaper Web sites have been gleefully broadcasting the location of vans. State officials, stung by allegations that they were not interested in safety, eventually responded by issuing a list of where the four vans might be at any given time. KSSK morning disc jockeys Michael W. Perry and Larry Price on Thursday enlisted isteners and got the locations phoned in within a few minutes. "Four for four," announced Price, reviewing the location of each van for motorists.
Transportation Director Brian Minaai described the wrangling over the project as "all part of the learning experience. I think we all can admit that the pace of all the cars on the freeways are a lot slower, if not more in line with the speed limit," he said.
In Canada, deaths dropped 20 percent on roads where speed cameras were used, and in Britain, 28 percent fewer crashes involved injury, according to Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute. "The whole idea is to deter the offense" he said, "and that's what speed cameras do."
Brent White, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said many people are worried about where this might lead. "If the government can put up these cameras to catch people going a couple miles per hour over the speed limit, what's to keep them from putting up similar cameras to catch people doing other things, like jaywalking?" he said.
10 April 2002, Hawaii USA: "Hawaii Halts Use of Traffic Cameras," by Bruce Dunford, Associated Press Writer.
HONOLULU - Gov. Ben Cayetano on Wednesday ordered a halt to the use of cameras to catch speeders, a safety measure many Hawaii motorists considered so underhanded they tried to subvert the system. Cayetano said the Legislature was about to repeal the program anyway. "The traffic van cam law is the creation of the Legislature, and if they want to now cancel the program it will be canceled," he said in a statement.
The van-mounted cameras, introduced on Oahu two months ago and operated by a private company, were coupled with radar and automatically photographed a speeder's license plate. A ticket was then issued by mail to the car's owner. Some drivers mockingly called them the "talivans."
The House late Tuesday tentatively decided to abandon the system, and Cayetano said he would allow the repeal bill to become law without his signature. He maintained, though, that the program's aims were good. "Driving at faster speeds has become a habit for many drivers and explains, at least in part, why there was so much opposition to the traffic van cam," he said.
The devices were supposed to catch violators the way red-light cameras have been doing for years, without the danger of a police chase. Proponents said the system would slow traffic and save lives. Drivers and civil liberties lawyers complained the system unfairly assumed the owner of the car was the person behind the wheel. They also said the cameras were an invasion of privacy.
Judges threw out the first batch of citations on a technicality that was later fixed. But lawyers then successfully argued that tickets issued to drivers going less than 10 mph over the speed limit should be dismissed because it conflicted with Honolulu Police Department practice.
While many states use cameras to catch people running red lights, Hawaii was the first state to pass a law allowing photo-enforced radar along state roads. State Rep. Charles Djou said Wednesday he was pleased "this very much hated system is finally going to get yanked."
13 May 2002, Luxembourg: Students say no to surveillance at Europe school in Luxembourg, by Honor Mahony.
A strike broke out at the European school in Luxembourg on Friday. Students held the spontaneous up-rising as a protest against plans to heighten the fence around the school and to erect surveillance cameras.
The director of the school, Jacques Descamps, said that discussions to raise the existing wall to a height of 1,80 meters had been going on for years. It was only after the September 11 terrorists attacks in New York that the go-ahead was given. The wall will be designed not only to protect the students but also to save the expensive school buildings from damage by outsiders.
The director, whom the strike took by surprise, insisted that although this had been discussed with the students it was very difficult to ensure that the information was filtered down to each pupil in a school where eleven languages are spoken. The students themselves fear that the raised wall and the possibility of surveillance cameras -- which have yet to be approved -- will give the school a prison atmosphere. They feel that pupils will not be protected from the outside world through isolation but rather through responsible education.
18 September 2002, Owen Sound, Canada: Protests and walkouts promised by students should "spy cameras" be used, by Bill Henry.
"Spy cameras" are not welcome at Meaford's high school. Walkouts and other protests are likely if the cameras go in as planned, two students told Bluewater trustees Tuesday.
On Monday, 255 Georgian Bay Secondary School students signed a petition against surveillance cameras there, Emmett Ferguson and Wes Wright told the board's policy committee. "It goes without saying that this type of practice is not permitted in a democratic society, being more the practice of authoritarian regimes," Ferguson said. The students said the cameras would violate privacy rights and threaten student security. "We will not permit ourselves to be constantly monitored by any person, whether it's for our own good or in the interest of school safety," Ferguson said.
The cameras will go in as planned as soon as the equipment arrives. They were supposed to be up already in hallways, the parking lot and near computer areas as part of the board's technology master plan pilot project at the school, finance superintendent Dean Currie said after the meeting. The plan is to make it easier for teachers to use technology, with consistent systems throughout the board. Cameras are going in at the same time as phone and computer systems and wiring as part of the overall pilot program.
Currie couldn't say how many cameras will be at GBSS, or exactly where they'll go. The intent is to protect property, not monitor student activities, he said. Cameras, cables, motion detectors and door locks for security will cost about $25,000 over 15 years, or $1,700 a year to protect the investment in computers and other property. "We received no direction from the board to stop the project, or to stop that part of it," Currie said in an interview.
Trustees told the students high schools in Hanover and Port Elgin already have some security cameras. Students accept and even like them because they feel safer, said trustee Carolyn Day, who chairs the policy committee. At Port Elgin's Saugeen District Secondary School, the idea came from student and parent councils, custodians and administrators wanting to curb theft and vandalism. "The reaction there has been overwhelmingly positive," Day said. No one looks at the tapes unless an incident is investigated, she added.
"I believe these surveillance cameras can help protect your individual rights and freedoms," said trustee Cindy Aitken. "It's not that you're not trusted or that you should feel threatened. It's we're trying to protect you." Trustees agreed the board needs a policy on security cameras, which are also in some school buses and have stopped bullying and other problems. Until then, Day said, it's up to principals, who are responsible for safety and security in their schools. Both Meaford's principal and parent council support the pilot project, she added.
The session was taped at the request of Peter Ferguson, Emmett Ferguson's father. Ferguson became angry when he asked for the tape and was told it would be processed and forwarded to him. He demanded it be sent by the end of the day. "I instructed them to prepare it. I want it," he said outside the meeting.
The students and Ferguson all said they will continue to fight the cameras, and they distrust board assurances surveillance is only for safety and security, and only in high-incident areas. "We want to just make sure that it's not abused," Emmett Ferguson said. "If they want to monitor their expensive computer equipment I don't have a problem with it. I just want to make sure that my movements about the school and my own personal privacy are of the utmost concern."
His father said he was not satisfied with what he heard. "What we are after here is a decision that no, spy cameras will not be placed in GBSS. We didn't hear that. What we heard was we're probably going to put them in, we're thinking about doing a policy and we may put them in before we have a policy. So these children are still under threat, my children are under threat and I don't like it," Ferguson said. He said he has not spoken to other parents about the issue. He asked that students address the board directly because time was short. If there are problems at the school, they should be solved some other way, he said. "We're standing firm on this. No cameras. it's a stupid idea. it's a hurtful idea. It's probably an illegal idea. So let's stop it now and then we can talk."
Wright said with schools underfunded, and not enough textbooks to go around, the money for cameras could be better used. He said he expects student will react if cameras are installed. "The talk at the school is people want to walk out for this issue because they feel very strongly about it. And there will be other protests. It's a very big topic at our school and it's talked a lot about."
23 September 2002, Nova Scotia, Canada: "Workers walk over plant spy-cams," by Broadcast News.
NEW GLASGOW A wildcat strike at TrentonWorks ended early yesterday after the company agreed to temporarily remove video cameras inside the rail-car plant. Most of the plants 500 unionized employees walked off the job Monday to protest the presence of the surveillance equipment. The cameras are there to spy on the men, said one worker. Give the men back some dignity. Ninety-nine per cent of the men are responsible men. Donnie Murphy, president of Local 1231 of the United Steelworkers of America, said the cameras were installed in the plants main production area without the unions knowledge.
Murphy said management told him they had forgotten to inform the union about the cameras, and that they were installed because of vandalism to equipment during the past month. The company agreed to remove the cameras for 10 days while management and the union discuss the issue. Company spokesman Sandy Stephenson declined comment.
1 October 2002, Colorado, USA: Don't smile for these cameras: Opposition to highway devices urged by Greg Masse.
Jerry Begly says government video cameras installed along Highway 82 are violating motorists' right to privacy. The problem is becoming so widespread, said Begly, a Snowmass Village resident, that he is holding public meetings up and down the valley to inform people of what he calls a violation of the Fourth Amendment right barring unreasonable search and seizure. He hosted a meeting last Thursday evening at the Carbondale Public Library.
"Eight years ago, [the Colorado Department of Transportation] put up a camera at Highway 82 and Cemetery Lane. It was supposed to be for the public to look at traffic," he said. Since then, he's counted 36 cameras along highways in the Roaring Fork Valley and the West Glenwood area. In an attempt to have the cameras removed, Begly is collecting signatures for a "redress of grievance." The redress is a way for people to peacefully petition the government for change, as spelled out in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"What do we do, just sit here and wring our hands?" he asked. "I'm proposing we do a redress of grievance." CDOT officials have said the cameras are used only for traffic control as part of their Smart Highway System and deny they're used for surveillance. But Begly said he's concerned that with the advent of facial-recognition technology -- which the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles started using in September -- the government will start to use the cameras to spy on its citizens.
"CDOT says they're only there for maintenance," he said. CDOT officials also have told him the cameras do not have high-resolution capabilities. But he feels the cameras -- which cost about $5,000 apiece -- do have high resolution and could easily be used to watch motorists. "At $5,000 per camera, you'd think they have some pretty good resolution," he said [...].
Begly plans at least two more meetings in Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction, but the dates and times of these meetings are not yet scheduled.
7 October 2002, Perth Amboy, Australia: Watched workers stage walk-out.
A Perth building company has installed spy cameras and microphones to monitor union activity. About 20 construction workers at a West Perth building site have walked off the job after being told they may be under surveillance at work. Sizer Builders says the move has been made to deter theft and union officials from disrupting work. The company failed to get a court injunction last month to keep union officials off work sites. The Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union says Sizer is compromising workers' rights to access their union officials by threatening their civil liberities.
Sizer Builders general manager Daren Deen says the union-related work disruption has cost the company thousands of dollars. Mr Deen says the use of surveillance equipment is not a breach of civil liberties.
"It's no different to walking into a shopping centre," Mr Deen said. "There's cameras in banks, shopping centres, bottle shops even nowadays. The cameras aren't on all the time . . . tape recordings [sic] certainlty aren't on all the time. It's purely just when union officials arrive on the site, and if they're doing everything by the book, then they should have nothing to hide."
9 October 2002, Trenton, Nova Scotia, Canada: Steelworkers win battle of the spy cameras.
TRENTON, NS, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - The 500 members of the United Steelworkers' Local 1231 have won the right not to be spied on by their employer with the agreement by Trenton Works Ltd. to remove all security cameras from the rail car plant. The cameras sparked a walkout late last month when the company used the excuse that the cameras were intended to prevent incidents of vandalism.
"We have agreed to a letter that states both the union and company will not tolerate vandalism on the property," said Local 1231 President Don Murphy. "Agreeing to such a statement is a small price to pay for protecting our rights. The level of vandalism that is alleged to have occurred is minor compared to the violation of our members' right to dignity on the job.
"Spy cameras in workplaces are the kind of thing that appalls Canadians when they hear about it in third-world sweatshops. The only reason the sweatshop bosses get away with it is that those workers don't have a union to protect their rights." Murphy said surveillance is an issue of fundamental human rights and could not be tolerated by the union. "We are pleased that the company came to its senses," he said.
9 October 2002, Sydney, Australia: Bus crews strike over videotape sacking.
Bus services in Sydney's west were disrupted today after drivers walked off the job in solidarity with a co-worker who was sacked after he was videotaped allegedly stealing from a fare box.
About 130 Busways drivers servicing routes in Blacktown and Mt Druitt went on a 24-hour strike claiming management misused onboard surveillance cameras as a disciplinary tool. The NSW Transport Workers' Union (TWU) said the cameras, meant to protect drivers and passengers from attacks or robberies, were being used to monitor driver work performance. But Busways management has rejected the allegations.
TWU state secretary Tony Sheldon said the drivers only agreed to the cameras being installed to act as a deterrent to violent crimes and to assist police or the department with prosecutions.
"Under no circumstance were the cameras to be used as a management tool to monitor drivers," Mr Sheldon said. The TWU has called an urgent meeting of bus industry delegates next week to discuss the use of video cameras on buses. Mr Sheldon said the misuse of the tapes was in direct breach of NSW Department of Transport requirements and privacy agreements.
"This is a flagrant abuse of trust by the company that has left our members with no choice but to take industrial action to force the company and NSW Department of Transport to immediately ensure the rights and privacy of drivers and passengers are protected," he said. The revelations and subsequent strike came after proceedings in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission yesterday.
Busways operations manager Brett Thomson said in a statement today that the cameras were not used to monitor driver performance. Mr Thomson said the company had agreed yesterday to allow the driver in question to resign rather than face dismissal over the allegations of stealing. But he said the company had yet to decide whether to refer the matter to police for investigation. He said the commission had found the video should be used as a first step to further discussions. Busways said today's strike had impacted on services in the Blacktown area, but management was attempting to service some routes.
Drivers are set to return to work tomorrow.
10 October 2002, Perth, Australia: Builder removes spy cameras after walkouts, by Liza Kappelle.
A Perth construction firm has temporarily stopped covertly recording workers' conversations after the surveillance sparked industrial and legal action. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has claimed a victory after Sizer Builders ordered the removal of the cameras following a series of walk-offs by about 20 unionists at a building site in West Perth. But Sizer managing director Darren Dean said the spy cameras and recorders would go up again at the first sign of further industrial unrest at the luxury apartment project.
"We're at a standoff at the moment," Mr Dean said. The CFMEU ordered members to walk off the job on Monday after it discovered Sizer had installed the surveillance equipment. Sizer set the equipment up in a bid to collect evidence of unlawful union conduct at the project site following a series of disputes over Sizer's employment of non-union labour, Mr Dean said
The company did not want to ask workers and subcontractors to speak out against the union because they risked blacklisting over such behaviour. Mr Dean said the cameras had come down and the 20 CFMEU members were back at work. Negotiations were continuing for a CFMEU pledge to maintain industrial peace at the site.
"There's no deals being done. If there's no industrial action, there'll be no cameras," Mr Dean said. "Any industrial action and the cameras are back." The CFMEU has lodged four applications in the Industrial Magistrates Court over the matter. It claims Sizer's actions breached right of entry provisions and freedom of association provisions under the Industrial Relations Act. Sizer will discuss its next step regarding legal action this weekend. "But with the cameras down it's a bit of a moot point at the moment," Mr Dean said.
18 October 2002, Owen Sound, Canada: Video cameras in school on hold; Delay not the result of protest, board director says, by Bill Henry.
Controversial surveillance cameras likely wont be installed at Meaford's high school until theres a new board-wide policy. But the unexpected delay is a happy coincidence not related to complaints from a parent and two students last month, David Armstrong, the Bluewater school board's education director, said Thursday. The students' criticism and petition at a board policy committee meeting in September changed nothing about the pilot project, Armstrong said.
"The video cameras, which were to go in this month, just aren't available yet. They are meant to protect computer equipment, not to monitor students as they feared. The cameras will be installed when they arrive, although that likely won't be until after the policy is widely discussed in school communities," Armstrong said. But the students' concerns did prompt a new draft policy on surveillance equipment in schools which is expected to be ready for Novembers committee meeting. The policy would then be circulated to school and student councils, staff and the public for comment before final board approval, Armstrong said.
"We have certainly reflected a great deal on this and it's clear there needs to be a clear and comprehensive dialogue with all of our communities," Armstrong said. "We will be able to have that dialogue before the cameras go in. That's a happy coincidence in my mind." Peter Ferguson, whose son Emmett along with Wes Wright, asked the board to reconsider what they called spy cameras at their school, said Thursday he welcomed the new policy. He's also pleased it will be debated before the cameras go in. But he wondered why the board doesn't meet with students as promised and use that discussion as a basis to help develop the policy.
"They should be going out to the people who are concerned and who will be affected by this thing and asking for input and developing their policy out of that," Ferguson said. In September, Emmett Ferguson and Wright gave trustees a petition with 255 signatures of Georgian Bay Secondary School students. They said the spy cameras violate their rights and threaten their security. They also hinted at student walkouts if the cameras go in. Armstrong said once the policy goes to schools, he's hoping students will debate the issue.
"It's not just watching over the students, which is what they perceive," he said. "It's also about the kids who want to feel safe at their school."
28 October 2002, Pennsylvania, USA: Students protest surveillance cameras, by Michael Lorber, The Daily Collegian
Protesters of the installation of surveillance cameras on Beaver Avenue, which would be partially funded by Penn State, rallied outside the Allen Street Gates Friday afternoon. The protesters included students from the Penn State chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the College Democrats and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). They collected signatures for a petition that includes a list of grievances, which will be presented to the State College Borough Council, State College Mayor Bill Welch, State College Police Chief Tom King and Penn State's administration. The petition says Penn State has no reasonable explanation for assisting with the funding of video surveillance equipment off campus.
"The university can raise tuition 13.5 percent, and they have money to fund cameras?" Jason Waeltz (junior-information sciences and technology) asked. ACLU member Daniel Leathers (junior-history) said the cost for the surveillance cameras is no more than $20,000. The university would fund $10,000 of that, he said. The use of surveillance cameras was proposed after riots in the area led to pressure from community groups. In previous interviews with The Daily Collegian, Police Chief King said he would recommend the instillation of cameras if the cost is reasonable. He said he believes the cameras will protect students and create a safer living environment. A vote on the use of cameras could take place as early as December.
Some protesters said the cameras might record areas of private property. "This is a serious violation of the Fourth Amendment," said Jim Reardon (senior-management), a YAF member. College Democrats President Alicia Turner said the university administration could be overstepping its boundaries. "It is so broad to what they say they can do; when does it go too far?" she said.
8 November 2002, Fiji: Customs officers want Nadi airport cameras removed.
Over 30 Customs officers based at the Nadi International Airport walked off their jobs yesterday afternoon and have threatened not to return unless security cameras are removed from the baggage hall. Airports Fiji Limited has again come into the limelight, igniting unrest at the Nadi International Airport and implementing changes without proper consultation from other organisations within the airport premises. Talks are under way to lobby for support from officers in Suva to join in the protest. The officers say the security cameras are a breach of the Customs Act and cameras must be removed immediately.
With high traffic movement yesterday, passengers had to endure long queues because there were no Customs officers to clear them. Flights scheduled at Nadi Airport yesterday were FJ910 from Sydney, NZ50 from New Zealand, Air Vanuatu from Vila, KE8-22 Korean Airline flight from Auckland and FJ920 from Brisbane.
A Customs source said the installation of the cameras did not comply with the Customs Act 124 section B which states that Customs officers cannot be placed under surveillance by other organisations. "The camera was being installed by AFL to spy on us but they fail to understand that we have our own surveillance cameras in place which is being monitored by Customs management," the source claimed. "Nobody has the powers to monitor our movements inside the baggage hall and we are protesting because we know that someone at AFL is trying to act a bit smart and here is the consequences of his smart acts." He said, "Airports Fiji Limited fails to understand that we are part of the disciplined forces and double-checking our movements and our line of operations is something that we will not stand for." The source said the idea to switch on the cameras was a direct result of the Customs Department charging duty on excessive clothes brought into the country by AFL chief security officer Samuela Matakibau. "We had to charge him extra $200 duty on the clothes he brought and he had warned us that our movements will be monitored and here he has done what he had meant." Mr Matakibau would not comment.
Fiji Islands and Revenue and Customs Authority chief executive Tony OConnor said he was aware of the grievances of the officers and would discuss the concerns with Airports Fiji Limited. The officers had not returned to work when this edition went to press last night.
2 April 2003, Barbados: Customs officers returning to work today by Dawne Bennett.
Staff at the Customs and Excise Department will be back on the job this morning as the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) prepares to enter discussions with the Ministry of the Civil Service. This recent development, according to sources close to the union, has averted planned strike action by health officers at Barbados' ports.
News of the workers' return to work, a week after they stayed off the job protesting the surveillance cameras focusing on them in the operation areas, came yesterday from NUPW General Secretary, Joseph Goddard who indicated that after receiving correspondence from the Ministry, the union agreed to an 11 a.m. meeting tomorrow and instructed all Customs and Excise staff to return to their duties. According to a statement from the NUPW, boarding officers at the Bridgetown Port and Port St. Charles and employees at the Bridgetown Port, Grantley Adams International Airport and Customs and Excise Headquarters are expected to heed the NUPW's call to return to work.
"The union's decision is as a result of two items of correspondence from the Ministry of the Civil Service which indicated that the Ministry stood ready to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible," stated the release which also extended the NUPW's and Customs staff's gratitude to the public for its understanding and the support and solidarity expressed during the impasse. It continued that the confirmation of the meeting came at the insistence by the union that the time, date and meeting venue must be in writing. The Barbados Advocate was reliably informed that the union met with health officers from the island's ports yesterday at the NUPW headquarters. According to sources, the officers pledged their support to the customs workers and the union had planned to call the workers out if no progress had been made in efforts to negotiate with government.
10 April 2003, Louisiana, USA: Police camera creates uproar: Citizens say $24K surveillance gadget invades privacy, violates civil liberties by Kerry Benefield.
Plans to use a remote surveillance camera in areas considered havens of high crime are running into an emotional hurdle as some Shreveporters express concern that the camera would invade their privacy. Residents of Shreveport's Mooretown neighborhood say they fear the camera will be used to record the moves of the innocent as well as those suspected of wrongdoing.
"I feel like my right to privacy and my civil liberties are being invaded by the camera. I don't feel I need to be monitored," Waters Place resident Urina Holt said. The $24,000 camera - which would have a range of about one block - has been ordered and is expected to arrive by months' end. There is no schedule for when or where it will first be installed, but tips from neighbors looking for relief from the activities of "drug houses" will likely be monitored first, said Police Chief Jim Roberts.
"It's hard for people to understand what it's like to live in a neighborhood where there are gunshots going on, where there's loud music and people coming in and out of their neighborhood. That's what we're looking for, to gather as much evidence on people like that," he said. "It's not to look over anyone's shoulder or to catch anyone doing anything wrong other than the crooks." But Holt and fellow Waters Place resident Stephanie Lynch have collected 159 signatures on a petition they say represent those opposed to the plan. Lynch stressed that before a camera is employed, she wants answers regarding how it will be used, whom it will target and if its installation will actually lead to a reduction in regular police patrols.
"When (District F Councilman James Green) said he was going to fight crime, (residents) didn't envision a surveillance camera, they weren't expecting to be spied on," Lynch, who is also president of the Mooretown Neighborhood Strategy Council, said. "I don't think that's how you build relationships." Green, who sponsored the legislation in December 2002 to pay for the camera, took umbrage at allegations the camera would be used to monitor neighborhoods rather than provide evidence against potential wrongdoers.
"If you are a crook breaking into someone's house or you are doing dope, this camera is for you," he said. "This is not James Green's camera, it's not specifically for District F. I will not be operating it."
District G Councilman Theron Jackson said a recent spate of high profile incidents involving police officers, including a police shooting in which a Cherokee Park man was killed and the arrest of a former patrolman for allegedly raping one woman and allegedly attempting to sexually assault a 14-year-old girl, have made residents uneasy. The camera will only heighten feelings of distrust between the police and the community, he said.
"We are going to erode the modicum of trust we have now," he said. "(Residents) are going to move on the emotion of 'They're putting up a camera in our neighborhood, they are watching us.'" Roberts said the camera will be hidden in most cases, but in certain instances, signs will be posted announcing its presence. High-frequency burglary areas where the camera can be posted in a commercial parking lot would be a prime location for the camera, he said. Taping areas that citizens expect to be private - such as homes and backyards - is illegal, Roberts said, and will not be done.
"It will be monitored out of our narcotics unit. They are familiar with all of the laws and requirements," he said. "A select few people will have access to it in that unit." Only footage that contains evidence of a crime will be kept, he said.
Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Shreveport's newest proposal differs from the video cameras that are currently mounted in all Shreveport patrol cars because those cameras capture images of someone who has been stopped with probable cause, not random activities.
"We oppose video surveillance by law enforcement unless there (is) probable cause that an individual has committed a crime and there is legitimate reason and authority to do it. Otherwise, it's invasion of privacy," he said. "It's contrary to an image the police should want to promote and that's the only way they can have success is to build trust."
Former longtime District F Councilman Joe Shyne attended Tuesday's council meeting and on Wednesday expressed concern for crime levels, but also about what kind of message cameras send to both residents and potential investors.
"You do that in communist countries," he said of surveillance. "It's kind of a reflection on the community. How are you going to get business and people to a place where you have outwardly called it a disaster zone?"
District C Councilman Thomas Carmody, the lone dissenting vote in the December vote to set aside money for the camera, said his vote was based on fiscal responsibility, not in pointed opposition to the camera. If residents are informed about the intent of the program, the cameras could be a positive move, he said.
"I understand both sides of it. I don't think any of us want our privacy invaded," he said. But he added that for some, the camera could send the message that police are watching out for law- abiding residents just as much as for potential criminals.
15 April 2003, Pennsylvania, USA: Student leaders speak on downtown cameras by William Berry and Rory Hassler.
Student leaders spoke out against the installation of surveillance cameras on Beaver Avenue at the State College Borough Council work session last night. Of about 15 citizens who addressed council, all of them expressed various levels of discontent with the proposal, and several, including USG President Ian Rosenberger, requested the issue be tabled until the fall semester. For the most part, council members remained silent during the testimony.
Council President Richard McCarl said he doesn't believe council will vote on the protocol at its April 21 meeting. However, he did not know if council would conduct a final vote on May 5. A vote will not take place over the summer, McCarl said. Rosenberger asked that council not vote during finals week. He is attempting to get more than 2,000 signatures against the proposal to present to council by next week. The petition is in the USG office, 223 HUB-Robeson Center, and will be distributed to student organizations.
"Penn State students are by a majority against placing surveillance cameras downtown," he said. "I want to encourage students to crowd the council meeting on April 21. In this case students make up almost 100 percent of the constituents effected by the security camera issue. This is an awesome opportunity for students to have a voice." A referendum asking if Penn State should partially fund the installation of the cameras was voted down by a 4:1 ratio, Rosenberger said.
Jason Covener, a non-degree conditional undergraduate student, suggested council let the community decide. "You say you want the community involved in the decision," he said. "Put it on the ballot as a referendum at the next election. Put your money where your mouth is."
Dan Leathers, president of the College Libertarians and co-coordinator of the Penn State chapter of the ACLU, already has presented council with a petition with about 700 signatures against the cameras. "Penn State, in its hopes to mend any bad blood between the university and the local community hopes to buy its way out of past problems with a $10,000 check towards the project," Leathers said. "Penn State's Bill Asbury, who met with the local chapter of the ACLU, said he would recommend not funding the cameras if they were to be used in any circumstance other than riots."
State College Police Chief Tom King said he will attempt to incorporate the comments and views aired throughout the night as he makes revisions to the protocol over the next week. Rosenberger will meet with King today to further discuss the issue.
Earlier in last night's meeting, the debate started with a presentation by King on his proposal. "We have tried a lot of things since 1998," he said. "We still have problems, it's time we try something else."
The cameras, which would only record images and not sound, would be focused on the sidewalks and streets, King said. Cameras would be programmed to automatically pan, tilt and zoom in order to cover the widest area, he said. A special feature would create a tint over any glass, inhibiting viewing into apartments and private areas. "The cameras shouldn't see anything you can't see from the street," he said. "What they will be viewing is what occurs on public property."
Recorded images will be stored digitally on a computer and will be kept for 30 to 45 days before being erased, King said. If the image is being used for an investigation, it can be stored for a longer period of time, he said. While the images are stored on the computer, only certain personnel will have access to them, he said. "This isn't an instance of having a tape that we could take home and watch with popcorn," King said.
The plan also calls for the establishment of a police chief's advisory committee to ensure implementation would take place in a public and a professional manner. The committee, made up of local officials, would periodically review procedures and make recommendations to King. Council would have to approve all changes in procedure.
Council members as well as citizens raised questions about who should be on the advisory committee. Janet Knauer said she did not see a need for the inclusion of the chair of the Pedestrian Traffic Safety Committee. Others expressed concern that there wasn't a spot for a community member.
Council members Tom Daubert and Goreham are unwaveringly opposed to cameras, while Cathy Dauler and James Meyer are in favor of the plan. McManis appears to be leaning toward voting for the plan. "The gauntlet is being thrown down and there has to be a way for us to address the problem," McManis said. McCarl expressed similar views. "I'm probably coming down on the side of saying it's a good idea right now," McCarl said. Knauer said she is leaning against the proposal.
21 April 2003, Pennsylvania, USA: Students plan against surveillance cameras: Campus leaders are trying to increase attendance at tonight's borough council meeting in an outcry against adding downtown cameras, by William Berry.
Fliers, e-mails and petitions will be circulating campus today, as student body leaders attempt to raise awareness about tonight's State College Borough Council preliminary vote on placing surveillance cameras downtown. The campaign to spark student interest is planned to start at 6:30 a.m., when members of various student organizations will begin posting fliers in classrooms and public spaces on campus, encouraging student to attend the council meeting.
During the recent USG elections, there was an overwhelming majority of people who voted on a referendum against the installation of cameras on Beaver Avenue, campaign organizer Dan Henning (junior-biology) said. The referendum asked students whether Penn State should partially fund the installation of the cameras.
"It infringes on personal freedom as well as personal privacy," Penn State College Republicans Chairman Brian Battaglia said.
Student leaders decided to organize following last Monday's borough council work session, Henning said. During the work session, many leaders were present and spoke to council regarding cameras but the messages were scattered, he said. "We knew to get something done, we had to be together," Henning said. Various student leaders met Thursday night to discuss ways to rally students against the installation of cameras. Ideas included following around council members with video cameras and contacting state legislatures about the issue. During the informal meeting, they decided to present council with a letter of opposition to the cameras and to recruit as many people to come to the meeting as possible.
Student and borough residents need to work together to prevent problems downtown, Henning said. Student leaders are working on other options to reduce the number of incidents in Beaver Canyon without surveillance, he added. "Cameras are not a positive way to improve that relationship," Henning said.
Large buildings on campus such as Willard, Thomas and the Forum will be the first to get the fliers, Paul Cronin Undergraduate Student Government (USG) director of town affairs and president of the off-campus student union said. In addition, they would like to put up signs about the vote on overhead projectors in some of the larger classes, he said. "We want to paint most of the big classrooms," Cronin said.
E-mails will be sent to club presidents and listservs to be distributed among the members, said Henning. Petitions will also be circulating the campus. The physical presence of students is critical at tonight's meeting, Henning said. "Any way you can show a unified student voice is great," he said. The most effective way of getting the message across that cameras are not wanted will be to pack borough council's meeting chambers, he said. "There's 90 seats in there. We want at least 100 people," Cronin said. "The more the merrier, of course."
An overwhelming show of student support against the cameras will impact the way the council votes, Battaglia said. When leaders present petitions to members of borough council, there is a gap in the communication, Henning said. With a petition and a large student presence it makes a difference, he said. "You can imagine them as a group, and that's more effective," Henning said.
1 May 2003, Pennsylvania, USA: Old Main rally protests cameras by Colleen Freyvogel.
Signs on Old Main's columns read "No Big Brother" and "Stop the Cameras" at yesterday's rally for civil liberties hosted by The Streets Project. About 50 students and faculty members and a State College Borough Council member spoke out against the proposed installation of surveillance cameras on East Beaver Avenue. Roger Stahl, a member of The Streets Project, said they were hoping for at least a hundred people to be at the rally, but relied on word of mouth to attract students to the gathering.
"[The speakers] made a point about the cameras and that they're not welcome with the students," Stahl said. "They are an invasion of privacy and most people got the message that it's not right to treat people like criminals and dehumanize them by presuming guilt." Stahl said The Streets Project has two main issues. One is the dehumanization that accompanies the cameras. The other is that it is an intrusion for all who walk by.
"They say that we've been unruly and deserve to be watched," said Ian Rosenberger, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) president. "I challenge you as students to take initiative to show the Borough Council that we don't need, much less want, the cameras on Beaver Avenue." Rosenberger said 70 percent of students voted against cameras in Beaver Canyon during the recent student government elections.
Takkeem Morgan, USG vice president, mirrored Rosenberger's sentiments. "We are talking about cameras, surveillance, fear; it all sounds like imprisonment," Morgan said. "This is ridiculous, this is reactionary and this does not speak to the issue." Morgan encouraged students to do more than listen to the speakers at the rally. He told students to prepare to take action and to attend the council meeting at 7:30 p.m. on May 5 at the Municipal Building, 243 S. Allen St., to voice their opinions. "You do have the power, and we can do this if we work together. Our voice can be heard," Morgan said. "The second we start to speak, our voices will start to be heard."
Topics such as civil rights, human rights and the Patriot Act of 2001 were also discussed during the rally.
"The struggle for civil rights and civil liberties are at the heart of our country's history," Dan Letwin, associate professor of history, said. "Come help write the page of our history." Tom Daubert, one of the three council members opposed to the cameras, said he believes alternate ways to deter crime should be attempted. "Beaver Avenue is not the only avenue of troubles," Daubert said. "More lighting and emergency call boxes, like those on campus, should be available downtown."
25 May 2003, Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Schilling smashes QuesTec machine, calls system "a joke" by Bob Baum, Associated Press.
Umpires who don't like the new electronic system that evaluates their calls on balls and strikes have gained an outspoken ally in Curt Schilling. The Arizona ace got so fed up with the system Saturday night during his loss to the San Diego Padres that he smashed one of its cameras near the Diamondbacks' dugout. "I said something to one of the umpires about it," Schilling said, "and he said 'Do us a favor and break the other one.'"
The QuesTec Umpire Evaluation System is installed at 13 ballparks, including Bank One Ballpark in Arizona. The umpire's union has filed a grievance against major league teams contending the system is inaccurate and varies greatly depending on the person operating it. An arbitrator is to hear the grievance in early July. "The QuesTec system in this ballpark is a joke," Schilling said. "The umpires have admitted it. They hate it. In the last three starts I've made here, multiple times umpires have said to the catcher, 'It's a pitch I want to call a strike but the machine won't let me.'"
[...] Schilling is a perfectionist. He has every pitch he's ever thrown to a batter on video and he studies them for hours and hours before each start. He also has a book on every call he's seen an umpire make. "As someone who relies on command and preparation and doing the things that I do to get ready for a ballgame, consistency is the most important thing in the world for me from an umpire," he said.
In a Feb. 14 letter to the World Umpires Association, baseball said umpires whose calls do not match Questec at least 90 percent of the time will be judged as not meeting standards. In March, 47 of 68 umpires signed a statement expressing no confidence in the QuesTec system.
Umpire Mike Winters, part of the crew working the Arizona-San Diego series, acknowledged after Saturday night's game that the evaluation system is affecting games. "Major league baseball wants to have everyone conform to the strike zone as this machine says it is," Winters said. "Everybody's working to try to do that. Borderline pitches, this machine says they're balls. If I call them a strike and the machine doesn't, I'm getting downgraded. I've got to worry about my own livelihood." Pitches on the corners might not get the benefit of the doubt they once did. "In the old days, we were taught 'Go get them. Call those pitches strikes,'" Winters said. "Today it's the exact opposite: 'Hey, if it's off the plate it's a ball. I don't care if it's a quarter-inch or an eighth-inch, it's a ball.' It goes against what we used to be taught, but major league baseball pays my salary, and they're the boss."
In ballparks that don't have the system, umpires are apt to revert to calling balls and strikes the way they have for years. "If I go to a park and I know it's not there, I'm certainly a little more relaxed," Winters said.
[...] Catcher Rod Barajas said umpires often refer to the QuesTec monitoring. "It's completely unfair to the umpires," Barajas said. "It puts so much more pressure on them to call pitches the way the machine wants them to call pitches. They can't be themselves back there, so now they're scared to pull the trigger." [...]
6 June 2003, Mooretown, Louisiana: Police plan video surveillance in high-crime area.
Police plan to put up a video camera to keep an eye out for street-corner drug deals and residential break-ins in high-crime areas. Some area residents and the American Civil Liberties Union are fighting plans for such video surveillance, saying it is an invasion of privacy.
"People whose homes are getting broken into, or stuff is being stolen from their yards, they want the camera," said Stephanie Lynch, president of the Mooretown Neighborhood Strategy Council. "People who feel it's an invasion of privacy, it's 'Big Brother,' they don't want it. Then there are others who just don't understand the scope of the situation. It's a mixed reaction, house to house."
Police began posting signs Thursday in Mooretown to alert residents that their neighborhood is under video surveillance. "Save a life. Someone is watching," they read, above a drug hot line number. And then, "This area protected by video patrol." However, police don't yet have the $25,500 camera and monitors, Chief Jim Roberts said. "We're expecting it any day now," Roberts said. "We've picked out several areas we want to use it. We get direct complaints and the people tell us to do whatever we have to do to solve the problem." He said the camera is similar to "sky cams" used for television news.
[...] Barbershop owner Jerry Bowman welcomed both the move toward video surveillance and the sign posted in front of Jerry's Barber Shop. "I think even the signs will help a whole lot," Bowman said. "People pay attention to signs. It tells you exactly what's going on." Another sign is a few feet from the home of Mercedez Harring, a teacher at Atkins Elementary School. "It's wonderful for the neighborhood," she said. She said it does infringe slightly on people's rights, "but so have many other things. I see no problem with it."
Others disagree. "If they're thinking of putting cameras in a heavy crime area, they should put more officers there instead," said Urina Holt, who collected more than 300 signatures on a petition against video surveillance. "If I go into a home of someone I'm unaware is a drug dealer, you automatically suspect me as being a part of it," she said. "If they want to prevent a crime, the camera won't stop it. If they're going to put a camera there, put a policeman there instead. The camera infringes on a lot of innocent people." Lynch said she didn't feel that the issues had been explained fully enough for people to make an informed decision. "My personal opinion is a camera should be the last resort."
Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said "people have a right to be left alone by the government unless there is good reason for them to be the target of an investigation." Such programs have not helped cut crime in other areas, he said. "In New York, police zoomed in on people that had nothing to do with crime - women dressed in certain manners, people who were curiosity items to the police but had nothing to do with criminal activity." [...]
16 June 2003, London, England: Tube strike threat over 'Big Brother' camera.
Railway maintenance workers are threatening a strike unless a 'Big Brother style' surveillance camera was removed from a booking-on area. Union leaders claim the miniature camera is disguised as part of a wiring circuit at a station on London Underground. The Rail Maritime and Transport union are calling on their new private sector employers Metronet to remove the camera or face a ballot for industrial action. Metronet say the booking-on area, at Baker Street station, is accessable by a public bridge and there have been two attempted break-ins in recent months which had caused 1,000 Pounds' worth of damage.
"The camera is designed to catch vandals," said a Metronet spokesman. "We don't even have access to the images. They go back to London Transport or the police." But Bobby Law, the union's London regional organiser, said: "We are happy to discuss the installation of video cameras to protect our members and the travelling public and to deter vandalism, but this sort of Big Brother surveillance is simply not on. We have written to the company seeking an assurance that this and any other covert surveillance devices are removed. If they do not we shall be left with no alternative but to ballot our members for strike action."
16 June 2003, London, England: Strike threat over Tube camera.
Tube maintenance workers are threatening to strike in a row over a tiny hidden camera at Baker Street station. Metronet, which has responsibility for three lines under the part-privatisation of the Tube, says it installed the surveillance camera to help catch vandals. But the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has accused the company of Big Brother-style surveillance at the central London station.
The camera covers an area where there have been two attempted break-ins recently causing 1,000 Pounds of damage, said a Metronet spokesman. "The camera is designed to catch vandals," he added. "We don't even have access to the images. They go back to London Transport or the police." But the RMT has asked Metronet to remove it, or face a ballot for industrial action.
The union's London organiser Bobby Law said: "We are happy to discuss the installation of video cameras to protect our members and the travelling public and to deter vandalism, but this sort of Big Brother surveillance is simply not on. We have written to the company seeking an assurance that this and any other covert surveillance devices are removed."
22 June 2003, Gainesville, Florida: Traffic cameras raise Big Brotheresque fears by Bob Arndorfer.
Strapped 30 feet high onto a traffic signal mast and overlooking the intersection of W. University Avenue and 13th Street, the white-domed cyclops is fairly inconspicuous. So are two other domed traffic-monitoring cameras mounted at SW 13th Street corners - SW 2nd Avenue and Museum Road. In another time, Beth Scrivener and others say, they might not have given a second thought to the cameras. But since enactment of the USA Patriot Act in the month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Scrivener said, the government's use of any device to keep an eye on people is cause for concern.
"There probably would not have been the concern over the cameras before that there is with the Patriot Act in place," Scrivener said. "That's because the USA Patriot Act has provisions in direct contradiction of the Constitution. And those of us over 40 lived through a time when the government abused information they obtained," she said. Scrivener is a member of a newly formed committee of the Community Coalition Against War and Terrorism to study how the traffic cameras will be used. Members of C-CAWT, as it is called, routinely gather in anti-war and other protest demonstrations on the corners of W. University Avenue and 13th Street, and they say the presence of a camera at that intersection is especially alarming.
"There's a lot of concern about cameras at 'protest corner,'" said Miriam Welly Elliott, whose anti-war activism dates to the Vietnam War. "A lot of people's anxieties are tied into the Patriot Act . . . and its eroding of civil liberties." Critics say the broad powers of the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act infringe on the Bill of Rights. Among its provisions is an expansion of the government's surveillance authority, including monitoring individuals' telephone calls and Internet activity, and searching homes without warrants. Its definition of a terrorist group, Elliott said, could include nonviolent anti-war activists. "Some people worry about their job security when they participate in demonstrations," she said. "When you add the potential of filming, when someone could prove you were out there, what kind of effect will that have on people's willingness to participate?" [...]
Scrivener said her committee plans to meet in a couple of weeks with traffic and law enforcement officials about the cameras. Although she feels comfortable that no "negative use" is intended for the cameras locally, she said, it's the levels of law enforcement higher up that concern her. "I don't think the local municipality can assure us that the cameras won't be used for surveillance of activists," she said. "I personally don't feel municipalities have control over what their ultimate use will be." Elliott said that in her years of activism, she's gotten used to being scrutinized at demonstrations. "I'm quite accustomed to being photographed at events and having authorities take down my tag number," she said. "But I think the Patriot Act adds a whole new dimension to that."
6 July 2003, Plymouth, Pennsylvania: Monitoring local law enforcement, by Keith Phucas.
[...] About two years ago, Plymouth Township installed a few of global positioning system (GPS) receivers in police vehicles, enabling police supervisors to locate any GPS-equipped police vehicle on patrol in real-time. Once [Police Chief] Pettine launches the @Road software, which utilizes the satellite-based GPS, he's just a few mouse clicks away from pulling up a log of overnight police activity. Plymouth was the first Montgomery County police department to install GPS. More recently, West Conshohocken and Pottstown's police departments have begun using the technology.
As more police vehicles and stations have gotten wired with the latest electronic technology, police officers have gotten spooked by the specter of "Big Brother" watching, and wonder if a fundamental trust has been lost. "At first it was a little unnerving," said Lt. Michael Haig, a 14-year veteran of the Plymouth Township Police Department. "Why aren't we trusted?" he recalled asking himself when GPS was first introduced. "We felt like we were guinea pigs" [...]
[Officer Tom Momme, president of Fraternal Order of Police's Lodge No. 14] is all for police accountability, but he worries about the potential for misuse of GPS information. "My main concern is that we don't have (police administrators) going after individuals," he said. After FOP met with local police officials, the GPS issue was resolved, and police officers have grudgingly accepted the way the technology is being used. "(GPS) does say 'we don't trust you,' but we can live with it," Momme said. "The chiefs and I have been working together on it" [...]
Last year, about the time West Conshohocken put GPS units in its SUVs, surveillance cameras were being installed at the police station as it was undergoing major renovations. In the station, dark hemispherical domes hide lenses that peer down from the ceiling of nearly every room in the building, including the three jail cells. While many police departments have had cameras in their stations for years, particularly in areas where police handle individuals in custody, their introduction in West Conshohocken was new and made officers uneasy.
But police were really rattled last fall after learning the cameras were connected to a monitor in West Conshohocken Mayor Joseph Pignoli's private residence. In response, the officers drafted a letter of protest in December that was eventually signed by eight borough officers and a detective, about half the borough's police force. In the letter, the men complained about being under the watchful eye of the cameras, and claimed that the surveillance raised liability, civil rights and privacy issues, not only for police, but also for suspects held in custody. "These cameras appear to have been installed in locations to 'watch' the officers while they are inside the station," the letter said. "The fact that there is a camera located in the lunch/break room pointed directly at the lunch table where officers take their breaks is proof of this" [...]
Soon after the controversy last fall, Mayor Pignoli pulled the plug on the camera system at his home. The mayor, who had undergone heart bypass surgery last year, recently resigned, citing health reasons. Repeated attempts were made by The Times Herald to reach the mayor, but voice messages were not returned. Also, West Conshohocken police officers declined to be interviewed for this story.
17 July 2003, Thurmont, Maryland: Thurmont officers file lawsuit with new allegations by Chris Patterson.
A lawsuit against the Town of Thurmont, promised by six Thurmont police officers last fall, was filed in the Circuit Court of Frederick County last week with one new allegation. The officers claim their radios were monitored without their knowledge, something that was not previously made public. The other allegation is that the officers were videotaped and audiotaped in the office of the chief of police without their knowledge and consent.
In June 2002, Chief Neil Bechtol retired before allegations of wiretapping became public. An investigation by the Maryland State Prosecutor's Office subsequently found no violation of the Maryland Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. Despite that finding, the officers sent a letter to Frederick County, the Town of Thurmont and then-acting Chief Terry Frushour at the end of 2002 stating their intent to sue. On July 3, the lawsuit was filed [...] Defendants include the Thurmont Police Department, Frushour, Bechtol, Sgt. Troy A. Angell, the Mayor and Town Commission of Thurmont and Frederick County.
Town attorney Clifford Bridgford said Tuesday that he expects to represent all defendants, except for Frederick County. He said he would talk to town officials about whether other attorneys should be hired to defend some of the defendants because there could be complications with him defending all of them. County attorney John Mathias was not available to respond to inquiries about the county's position in the case. Officers are requesting at least $5.88 million in damages. Some of the counts indicate the damages are to be paid collectively by the defendants, while others do not specify. If damages on some counts are being requested from the parties as individuals, total damages would far exceed $6 million. Bridgford said the complaint was vaguely worded and he could not determine the total amount being requested. Calls to the plaintiffs' attorney were not returned by press time.
The suit contains eight counts or reasons for the civil suit. The first four counts deal with the original wiretapping allegations. It is in counts five through eight that allegations are made about devices allegedly installed into the police officers' radio equipment by Sgt. Troy A. Angell. The equipment, they allege, was used to record verbal communication during traffic stops in which the police cruiser cameras are used. The suit claims the devices intercepted the verbal communications and transmitted them to Angell, a fact that was not disclosed to the officers, they claim. A jury trial has been requested.
On Tuesday, Frushour said he had already been served with papers. The town of Thurmont was not served until Wednesday morning. Because Frushour was served before the town, a response is due from him to the court before the town's response, Bridgford said. Responses to legal complaints are due to the court within 30 days of being served.
4 August 2003, London, England: Surveillance Opens Up a New Industrial Minefield by Matthew Lynn.
For British Airways Plc it was a spectacular own-goal. Ejected from the FTSE-100 index, facing lethal competition from no-frills rivals, and about to unveil a first quarter of losses, Europe's biggest airline chose to introduce a new electronic swipe-card system to monitor when its check-in staff start and stop work. The result? A lightning strike, and the U.K. carrier's Heathrow Airport operations plunged into chaos during the peak summer holiday season. British Airways eventually settled with its check-in staff: The swipe cards will still be introduced, but there will be restrictions on the way they can be used. The strike was still interesting. Not for what it said about the airline's management or the state of the industry, but for what it told us about the state of relations between workers and companies. For that reason, it would have struck chords with workers around the world. Think about what was at stake in the strike [...]
That is a very 21st-century struggle between labor and management -- and one that may well be repeated many times over in the years ahead. Surveillance is fast emerging as one of the key battlegrounds between workers and companies. British Airways' staff are far from alone in finding the intrusiveness of the modern corporation disturbing. Even many of their business-class passengers would have listened to their complaint, and thought, "Hmm, that's the kind of thing that bothers me as well."
One of the unintended consequences of the explosion of information technology is that just about everything workers do in an office or a factory is now stored in digital form. And, very often, it is used against them [...] Closed-circuit television cameras monitor buildings, keeping an eye out for intruders. But they also keep tabs on what employees are doing. It isn't surprising that many workers feel as if they are being watched all the time. They are. The results can be absurd [...]
What the British Airways workers are saying is, "That's enough." We don't like being watched all the time. It's hard not to sympathize. Even Lavrenti Beria, Stalin's notorious police chief, might have thought it was all getting a bit out of hand.
It would be wrong to come down too hard on the companies. They introduced e-mail, taped phone calls, CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment of the modern workplace because it made their organizations more efficient and productive. They didn't do it to snoop. But having installed the technical gadgetry, they found that they could snoop -- and since the first instinct of the corporate manager is to control, they found it impossible to resist [...] Yet companies should also remember that their staff members are people, not just cogs in a machine. They need dignity and trust. And they would like to be treated like grown-ups -- not like worker ants whose every move needs to be controlled.
8 September 2003, England: UK saboteurs target speed cameras.
BLACK KNIGHTS: A secretive group is dedicated to ripping down, blowing up and even shooting apart the tools that are supposed to help keep roads safe.
They are the black knights of the road; balaclava-wearing highway hitmen out to burn, bomb, decapitate and dismember. But drivers need not fear, for it is speed cameras that this growing band of rebels are after. Up and down the UK, the tools used to keep roads safe are being ripped down, blown up and even shot apart as part of a campaign orchestrated by a gang of Web-surfing outlaws. They threaten to become the most popular gang of criminals since Robin Hood and his Merry Men stalked the countryside. More than 700 cameras across the nation have already been taken out and insiders warn that operations are about to be stepped up. Communicating through internet chat rooms, the activists move under cover of darkness, targeting devices they claim have taken a particularly heavy toll on drivers' licences and wallets.
From the south coast of England to the Highlands of Scotland no camera is safe. Known as Gatsometers, or Gatsos, they are being destroyed at a rate that has alarmed police forces. Particularly destructive cells are known to be operating in north London, Essex and Wales -- where they rage against machines deployed by the renowned anti-speeding police chief Richard Brunstrom. Last week Brunstrom, who is also head of the technology committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers, raised the possibility of introducing impairment meters to test the reaction times of elderly motorists, but the violent backlash against his camera crusade is growing.
With each unit costing 24,000-pounds Sterling (US$38,000) to replace, a huge bill is being run up. But the rebels are unrepentant, claiming the cost is more than met by speeding drivers' fines. Speed cameras, they argue, are not about keeping roads safe, but about raising revenue. Often the charred remains of their victims are adorned with stickers or graffiti that declare cameras to be stealth tax inspectors. Recent months have seen new operations in Norfolk and central Scotland. A representative of the shadowy Motorists Against Detection (MAD) has claimed responsibility and said hundreds of members were ready to risk thousands of pounds in fines and up to six months in jail.
The secretive figure who would give his name only as Captain Gatso warned that the campaign was being stepped up. "We are moving into a new phase which will see increased operations across the country. This is a struggle against an unjust form of taxation. The cameras have nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with raising revenue," he said. "Our operatives are responsible people. Many are professionals with families who lead normal lives. Yet they feel aggrieved and will not just sit back and accept this. Direct action is our only form of defense. These cameras are there to make money."
Welsh IT consultant John Lockett runs a Web site used by speed camera saboteurs. He denied encouraging attacks and said direct action was "perhaps going a bit far," but he echoed Captain Gatso's anger. "You shouldn't be caught for speeding if you have got to overtake a bus, let through an ambulance or swerve to avoid a kid. I think it's wrong. To place a trap behind a tree, on a very fast corner or down a hill is unfair." Web sites such as Lockett's allow users to alert each other to new cameras and attacks that have eliminated existing ones. They promote radar speed trap detectors and warn of the menace of what they call the Talivan -- mobile police speed detection units.
Even the camera widely touted as Britain's most successful has been unable to escape their wrath. On the southbound carriageway of the M11 at Woodford, Essex, tyre tacks were found leading away from the toppled device which had been nabbing 2,000 motorists a day. Police believe a lorry driver deliberately reversed into it. An Essex police officer said: "Perhaps if the person who did this could see some of the effects of speeding that we see, they would think differently about what they have done."
Northamptonshire police offered a 2,000-pounds (US$3,165) reward for help in finding people who used a bomb to take out a Gatso on the A605 at Thrapston. The blast sent shards of metal flying more than 15m.
A counter-attack against the saboteurs is being launched by Susan Beck of the All Safety Camera Partnership, a publicly funded body that works with the police to decide where Gatsos should be placed. "Cameras reduce death and injuries on the road. These units are designed to slow drivers down at casualty hotspots," she said.
The Department for Transport last year dramatically increased speed camera installations after research showed wider surveillance reduced the number of deaths and serious injuries in pilot areas by 47 percent.
9 September 2003, Portland, Oregon Protester gets a picture -- of police rules.
A month after police confiscated his camera, James Dreiling says he is waiting to get it back. The camera, a disposable model, isn't worth much. But that's not really the point, he says. "Why can't I take a picture?" the North Portland man asks. "They can take pictures of me, but I can't take pictures of them."
Them? I'll explain: He is talking about the surveillance cameras stationed outside the Bureau of Emergency Communications building in East Portland, which has become what police call "a highly sensitive area" since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Its address is no longer published. Every sign has been removed from outside. To most people, it's just a brick building. On the afternoon of Aug. 10, Dreiling was spotted taking pictures of the 9-1-1 center and all the cameras taking pictures of him. He says he was trying to make a statement about his dissatisfaction with a world increasingly monitored by video cameras.
The dispatchers inside didn't see the irony. They just got spooked. One of them tried to get Dreiling to go away. The call to police went like this: "BOEC employee at front entrance with 1234," 9-1-1 vernacular for someone acting strange. "Kinda scary white male." Within a minute, the first of three squad cars pulled up. Dreiling says he tried to explain to the police officers what he was doing. "But they said I might be a terrorist and a bunch of stuff about 9/11," he says. "Then they took my camera." He says he wants to get the roll of film back to develop pictures of his friends. Police can keep the rest of the shots, he says.
Authorities say police have the right to temporarily seize property if they suspect someone is conspiring with terrorists. Dreiling will get his camera back, they say, if investigators don't find a reason to hold on to it.
10 September 2003, Victoria, Australia: Anger over coffee-machine camera.
About 60 Victorian public servants are refusing to move into their refurbished offices until surveillance cameras are removed. The staff of Vicnet, based in the State Library of Victoria, believe the cameras breach the state's privacy laws. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) today called on state Attorney-General Rob Hulls to set out the Government's position on surveillance in the workplace. CPSU Victorian secretary Karen Batt said the cameras set an alarming precedent for workplaces, both in the public and private sectors.
"These cameras are actually trained on where staff work and on their amenities, such as coffee machines," Ms Batt said. "Management talks about having them there for security but they're not security high-risk areas because there's no public access and no money being handed over." Ms Batt said the library management had not consulted staff or the union about the cameras before installing them as part of a $500,000 refurbishment. The CPSU is considering lodging a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner. Comment is being sought from the State Library of Victoria.
30 September 2003, Cumberland, Rhode Island: Firefighters OK no-confidence vote against chief.
Firefighters from the Cumberland Fire District unanimously approved a no-confidence vote against Chief Robert Garon Sept. 19 and want his resignation because of a video surveillance camera he allegedly installed in the fire station. Garon calls their allegations all wrong, however, because he says the computerized video camera system he was trying out for possible purchase was in his private office hooked to his work computer, and was not illegal.
The allegations were revealed to The Woonsocket Call anonymously in a letter written by Jeffrey McCabe, president of the Cumberland Professional Firefighters Association, to Cumberland Fire District Chairman Marcel Bacon regarding the no-confidence vote on Monday. Several attempts to contact McCabe were unsuccessful. Several telephone calls to Bacon, a Woonsocket firefighter, also were not immediately returned.
In the three-page letter, McCabe also accuses Garon of a management style of "retribution and vendetta prosecution," and a disregard of employees' privacy, asking for a forensic audit of all department property to determine if there are any other cameras on Fire Department property. In the correspondence, McCabe alleges that firefighters discovered the video camera "positioned in a covert manner." McCabe also claims that firefighters found video files showing the camera was activated hundreds of times. McCabe does not identify how the firefighters found the camera, how they came into possession of the video files of the surveillance images on Garon's computer, or the content of those images.
Garon said he wanted to test the hardware and software of the system and borrowed the unit Sept. 16. He said he and Commissioner Paul Dimodica tested the camera, videotaping Dimodica sitting at Garon's desk. On Sept. 19 at 11 p.m., Garon said, he decided he had problems with the computerized system and made a decision not to purchase the system. The chief said the only way firefighters could have gotten possession of the video files was to hack into his work computer. In fact, he said, he found some of the files on the firefighters' computer workstation located in a common area.
"What justification does anyone have to look into someone's computer? The whole deal is I did nothing illegal," Garon said. Cumberland Police Chief Anthony Silva agreed with Garon that having a video surveillance camera in his office was not against the law and Garon had of right of expectation of privacy. Garon said he plans to present a response to the no-confidence vote in writing to Commissioner Bacon, explaining why he was evaluating the equipment. He also intends to request that Bacon conduct an investigation into how someone could access his computer and look into possible criminal charges. He said before the no confidence vote, Bacon asked him not to pursue the issue of how the video files were obtained from the chief's computer.
The firefighters' union has also asked for Dimodica's resignation, but the commissioner said the allegations against he and the chief were unfounded and retribution related to stalled contract negotiations [...]
10 October 2003, England: Smile, you're being watched, by Jane Black, Businessweek Online.
On Oct. 9, a pipe bomb exploded under a traffic-monitoring camera in North Belfast. An act of terrorism? More than likely, it was just another average British citizen furious about the ubiquitous surveillance that has sprung up in Britain over the last decade. It wasn't the first time a "speed cam" has come under attack. The destruction of these surveillance cameras -- which cost between 30,000 to 50,000 British pounds each (between $50,000 and $80,000) -- has become a near-weekly occurrence in the British Isles. Farmers in Somerset have been charged with using speed cams and closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV) for target practice. In Cambridgeshire, vandals set one afire. Earlier this month, one creative hooligan knocked down a speed cam by attaching a rope from the back of his car to the camera's pole and driving away -- a mini reenactment of the toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad last spring.
A cynic might argue the vandals are motivated more by anger over receiving speeding tickets than by any invasion of privacy. But when the characteristically reserved Brits start acting like rowdy Texans, you know a backlash is building. Britain has 4,500 speed cams. The country's more than 2.5 million CCTV cameras catch each British resident as many as 300 times each day.
[...] The violence in Britain stems from widespread outrage that surveillance cameras don't do the job they purport to. Drivers complain that speed cameras are never placed where they should be -- outside schools, near athletic stadiums, in city centers -- but on straight stretches of road where the cops are most likely to catch someone for speeding. "Speed cameras are just another way of demonizing car drivers," British driver Chris Davies told the BBC. "We need less of them, (and they should be) in the right areas, based on facts."
Indeed, according to the nonprofit Association of British Drivers (ABD), penalties and prosecutions from speed cams raise 66 million pounds ($110 million) annually. Meanwhile, road deaths continue to climb: From 1995 to 2001 (the latest figure available), the number of speed-cam tickets and prosecutions in Britain soared from around 207,000 to more than 1 million, while road deaths increased 4.5 percent, from 2,995 to 3,127. It's clear proof, says ABD Chairman Brian Gregory, that the switch from human traffic patrols, which can spot drunk or reckless drivers, to video surveillance has failed to make roads safer. This year, the ABD launched a campaign against speed cams, calling them "Weapons of Mass Persecution." [...]
3 November 2003, France: Roadside Radars Rolled Out in France by AFP.
An unprecedented offensive in France against the extremely high number of road deaths has moved into top gear with the introduction of devices already common in many other countries: permanent radars fitted with cameras that automatically fine speeding drivers. [...] But the belated attempt to change the infamously lead-footed driving habits of the French will not be easy, authorities know -- that's why the new digital cameras are protected in metal casings said to be tamper-proof, paint-proof and rigged up with alarms to protect them from irate motorists.
That didn't stop the very first radar camera inaugurated being vandalized hours after its inauguration last Monday by someone who cracked its armored-glass plating with a sledgehammer. Equally determined police had the 90,000 dollar unit repaired for the next day, and its images were being examined for clues as to the likely culprit, who faces up to three years in prison and a 52,000-euro fine if caught. Two unprotected surveillance cameras -- used to manage traffic, not identify speeding cars -- were destroyed by gunshot last month in eastern France, probably by somebody who mistook them for radar devices, police said.
[...] In other countries which have been using such cameras for several years, units have been vandalized by angry motorists. In Britain, for instance, several "anti-radar" groups have sprung up, most notably the "Motorists Against Detection", who have claimed responsibility for putting several cameras out of service. One unit in Northern Ireland was even blown up.
13 November 2003, Greece: Camera damage.
A Thessaloniki municipal councilor was yesterday charged with criminal damage for severing the cable of one of the 42 surveillance cameras set up around the northern city over the course of the European summit in Halkidiki last June. Agapios Sahinis had criticized the installation of the cameras in Thessaloniki as a violation of privacy. He claims that although the cameras were ostensibly set up for the EU summit, they continue to operate.
25 November 2003, Annapolis, Maryland: Supporters of Annapolis Principal Speak at Meeting by Vikki Ortiz.
Several African American religious and community leaders testified before the Annapolis City Council last night in support of embattled Annapolis High School Principal Deborah Hall Williams, saying that complaints about her leadership style obscure efforts she is making to improve the achievement of minority students [...]
To help keep weapons out of school, Williams ordered that students use only see-through backpacks. To prevent students from skipping class, she called for the removal of trees that blocked surveillance cameras. She demanded that students stay on campus for lunch and take their hats off indoors. Her critics argued that the policies were overly harsh. In September, dozens of students dressed in all orange as a form of protest to the "jail-like" atmosphere. By October, www.saveannapolishigh.com was launched to post comments and complaints [...]
10 January 2004, Boca Raton, Florida: In-class camera plan billed as teacher aid raises privacy fears by Lois K. Solomon.
Will Big Brother take a seat in the classroom of a new middle school?
Administrators say two cameras in each of the school's classrooms will record the instructional techniques of Palm Beach County's best teachers. Teaching professionals from across the country are expected to visit the district's nearby Safe Schools Institute to watch the highly experienced instructors in the first classroom-cameras project of its kind in the nation. But parents and civil liberties experts say they aren't sure what else the cameras will record and where the tapes will end up. They say the classroom is a sacred space that should be devoted solely to student-teacher interaction, not public observation."I do not believe children perform under a microscope," said Roberta Deutsch, a Boca Raton parent whose daughter may be assigned to the school. "Teachers are going to couch their behavior accordingly when the cameras are on. I think the purpose here is overall surveillance of everyone, including teachers."
A group of parents has protested their children's proposed assignment to the school, which will open in August at Spanish River Boulevard and Military Trail [...]
Some parents and civil liberties experts say their use in classrooms opens a new era of privacy invasion. "Who's watching the watchers? What's going to happen to the tapes?" asked Jill Farrell, spokeswoman for the Free Congress Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that lobbies against encroachments on individual rights. Farrell said she worries not only about control of the tapes, but children's conduct in front of the cameras. "Cameras change behavior," she said. "Will a shy child not ask a question for fear of seeming stupid on camera?" [...]
22 January 2004, Athens, Greece: Angry at Security Plans, Protesters March Against Athens Olympics by Derek Gatopoulos.
Several hundred demonstrators marched through central Athens in freezing weather Thursday against the Olympics and massive security measures planned for the Aug. 13-29 Games. Led by a black banner reading "Destroy Olympics" in English, about 400 people from anti-globalization and anarchist groups marched to near Greece's parliament building before dispersing peacefully. Police and riot squads maintained a low profile during the first such demonstration of its kind.
"We are facing Olympic terrorism," Nikos Yiannopoulos, a protest organizer, told The Associated Press. "Our fundamental rights are being trampled on in the name of security," said Yiannopoulos, speaking during a rare snow shower. "We won't stop our action, not even in August."
The demonstrators chanted "not one spectator, not one volunteer at the repression Olympics," and unfurled colorful banners. One displayed the cartoon-like 2004 mascots, Phevos and Athena, wearing riot police gear and with the logos of the U.S. companies Coca Cola and McDonald's on their shields.
Greece, rattled by terrorist attacks in neighboring Turkey last December, has budgeted more than US$750 million for Olympic security and will deploy 10,000 soldiers and 40,000 police for the games. Athens is receiving assistance on security planning from seven countries, including the United States and Israel, and is working with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to gather information on potential threats around the world. Police insist the measures are vital stop to Athens becoming a target for international terrorist groups like al-Qaida and have launched a publicity campaign to win the support of ordinary Greeks who are traditionally wary of the security services.
Increasingly vocal critics of the measures say surveillance cameras currently being installed around Athens are unlikely to come down after the Olympics, and are angry at restrictions planned on street protests during the games.
"We will be living in a police-run city. The military is being given a new role ... Athens will look like a war zone, with exclusion areas, helicopters. We don't want this," said Panos Totsikas, another organizer. "We want to express our opinions freely. . . . We won't let our rights be taken away under the pretext of our protection."
29 January 2004, Athens, Greece: No Smiling for These Cameras.
The mayor of the city hosting Olympic weightlifting ordered crews to vandalize street security cameras after residents complained they violated their privacy. It was the first direct act of defiance against the thousands of cameras being installed around Athens to bolster security for the Olympics. Mayor Stelios Benetatos ordered municipal workers to disable three surveillance cameras with spray paint in the Athens suburb of Nikea because residents don't want everything they do being recorded without their permission. At least two other suburban mayors have expressed concern about the cameras. Critics are concerned the surveillance cameras might not come down after the Olympics.
"These cameras were placed without permission . . . and we are worried about the privacy of our citizens," Benetatos said. Benetatos said the actions did not violate any laws because the police and public works ministry had not sought the town's approval to install the cameras.
During the Olympics, stationary cameras around Athens will operate from hundreds of locations around the city, in addition to surveillance equipment on helicopters and a blimp.
6 March 2004, New Jersey, USA: The New York Times, "Hidden Cameras Upset Riders and Crew" by Vincent M. Mallozzi.
The train doors opened in Hazlet, N.J., on a recent evening, and David Rodriguez stepped inside and found himself a seat. The train resumed its rumble north, and Mr. Rodriguez, a 46-year-old perfume maker on his way home to Belleville, N.J., handed his ticket to a conductor as if it contained winning lottery numbers. "Smile," Mr. Rodriguez playfully shouted to the conductor. "You're on transit camera!" In early January, New Jersey Transit began installing hidden cameras aboard its trains as a safeguard against theft. Transit officials said the decision was brought on by the disappearance of or damage to about 50 bullhorns worth an estimated $10,000. A spokeswoman for the agency said that the cameras were not being used to glimpse at its employees' daily routines.
The cameras' presence, however, has created an atmosphere of anger and distrust among the agency's 1,100 crew members. Transit workers became alarmed after two conductors were pulled off a train and taken for questioning in February, after they were spotted on video using bullhorns on an empty train. "I've worked for this company for 18 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said Xavier D. Williams, the general chairman of Local 60 of the United Transportation Union, which represents the conductors. "It's an invasion of privacy." Mr. Williams said he was angry at New Jersey Transit management for what he called a double failure in communication: "Our office was never notified about these cameras," Mr. Williams said. "And furthermore, the riding public was never notified that they are suddenly under surveillance."
Penny Bassett Hackett, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Transit, said that "as a matter of practice, we do not use cameras to supervise our train crews." However, she said that "the cameras are being used as part of a police investigation into on-board theft of equipment." Ms. Bassett Hackett said that New Jersey Transit had been using cameras for security purposes on certain platforms in Hoboken, Pennsylvania Station in Newark and on the platforms in some Newark subway lines. "All of these are public cameras that benefit employees and riders by helping to deter crime," she said.
Mr. Williams said he understands that increased video surveillance has become a way of life since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but he also maintained that a company monitoring the movements of its own people and an unsuspecting public is bad for morale and bad for business. Another commuter, Wayne Larsen, 46, who travels from Matawan, N.J., to his job as a printer in Manhattan, said: "I don't like my privacy being invaded. What if you're talking about things you don't want people to know?" He said he wondered whether New Jersey Transit had installed hidden microphones as well. (They have not, according to Ms. Bassett Hackett and union officials.)
Deborah Jacobs, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said that her office received numerous calls from people complaining about being filmed in public places. "It's understandable that they would be upset," Ms. Jacobs said. "But our rights to privacy in this context are not clear." Ms. Jacobs said that "while technology has moved at the speed of light, laws protecting privacy are in the Stone Age."
Mr. Williams said he did not learn of the hidden cameras until Feb. 18, when two conductors were removed from a train at Newark by detectives investigating the disappearance of the bullhorns, which are used in emergencies. According to union officials, the conductors were taken to the Newark Broad Street station house and were questioned separately. Both conductors -- the union has requested that they not be identified while their cases are being reviewed -- were surprised when they were shown videotape of themselves using the bullhorns a month earlier on a deadhead train, a train that transports equipment without passengers aboard, union officials said. The conductors were questioned by investigators about why they had taken the bullhorns out of a storage box and why they appeared to be "horsing around" with the equipment, a union official said. Both were told that they could face charges of criminal mischief and that they would be notified by New Jersey Transit if the agency decides to take disciplinary measures.
"The whole thing was done as a scare tactic," said Dave Rasmussen, the Transit Union's vice chairman. "Our conductors were using that equipment to test it, and there's no better time to test it than on a deadhead train." Just before he walked off the train at Newark, Mr. Rodriguez shook his head and said with a sigh: "First cameras, and then what's next? Fingerprints? Metal detectors? Bag searches? "My seat used to be my sanctuary," he said. "And now I share it with an eye in the sky." The doors opened wide. Mr. Rodriguez looked up high and waved good night to no one in particular.
30 June 2004, Lincolnshire, England: Why Masked Gang are Trying to Destroy Speed Cameras on our Roads.
A Gang of masked men intent on destroying speed cameras across Britain have admitted trying to smash a camera in Lincolnshire. Footage filmed by a hidden police camera caught activists from the Motorists Against Detection (Mad) group at the base of a camera on the A15 at Snitterby, near Kirton in Lindsey. They were wearing combat clothing and balaclavas and were armed with tools and a petrol can -- but the pictures were not being transmitted back to a police station while they were being recorded. The group spent 23 minutes milling around the camera without causing any damage before leaving after seeing what they thought was an unmarked police car. Police had installed surveillance equipment after a previous attack on the A15 camera.
Mad spokesman Captain Gatso - who is named after a make of speed camera unit - refused to be drawn on whether the camera would be targeted again. "All I can tell you is that the crusade will continue and we just want to keep drawing the public's attention to what we stand for," he said. "These guys are not out to get a criminal record -- they're responsible people with regular jobs and families. "They're not 20-year-old boy racers - most of them are middle aged."
Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership spokesman Steve Bachelor said: "We take any attempt to damage cameras very seriously. The reality of what we are trying to do is to improve safety and reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries." He said criminals had caused 170,000 Pounds damage to county speed cameras since the late 1990s. Speed cameras cost about 30,000 Pounds Sterling each to install. There are 48 fixed speed cameras and 14 mobile cameras in Lincolnshire. So far this year, 39 people have been killed on the county's roads.
Captain Gatso said he believes speed cameras should only be installed to target "serious and serial speeders", not motorists driving just over the speed limit. "What we would like to see is cameras situated in accident blackspots or near schools," he said. "What we have a problem with is what we believe to be areas targeted for revenue and not safety. Last year 20 million Pounds Sterling went to the Exchequer from these cameras." To date, Mad has destroyed 800 of Britain's 5,000 cameras -- but Captain Gatso said he felt the majority of motorists backed the group's actions. "Passing motorists hoot and cheer because they know what's going on. When people are running around with cans of petrol no-one's ringing the police to say this is going on."
Lincolnshire Police spokesman Inspector Dick Holmes said people were spotted at the camera at Snitterby in the early hours of Wednesday, June 9. "This is the third such camera to have been targeted on the A15 recently -- the others being at the Lincolnshire Showground and on the A15 near the county boundary." He said police had video footage of the offenders surveying the scene at 2.18am. "They were not put off by the passing cars and were on site for some time," he said. "An alarm and warning sounded but the offenders returned at 2.51 am."
3 July 2004, New Delhi, India: Delhi cops ensure surveillance cameras are monkey-proof." IANS.
When Delhi Police decided to install cameras to keep a tab on frequent political protests held in the heart of the city, they came up against a unique problem -- the devices had to be monkey-proof! The stretch where the 10 hi-tech closed circuit cameras were installed -- the high-security area between Jantar Mantar near Connaught Palace and Vijay Chowk -- is a favourite haunt of a large number of monkeys. The simians plague VVIP areas in the centre of the national capital, including the Rashtrapati Bhavan, South and North Blocks that house the external affairs, finance and defence ministries and India Gate. Senior police officers said the hi-tech cameras would be of great help in keeping a tab on traffic and demonstrations in the high security zone.
But while planning the ambitious project a year ago, officers had to incorporate special safeguards to ensure that monkeys did not damage the cameras. A police officer said: "It had come to our notice in tests that ordinary cameras were damaged by monkeys. So, we decided to get a model that the monkeys couldn't grip with their hands." While selecting the cameras, Delhi Police roped in experts from central intelligence agencies and dozens of models were scrutinised. The experts rejected cameras that were large as monkeys could easily grab and damage them. "The experts provided details of about how monkeys can grip objects. The camera that was finally selected was one that was designed in a way that no monkey could grip it from any angle," the officer said. The new cameras were installed at 10 different locations on Parliament Street, the busy thoroughfare in front of the parliament building. The police officer said seven of the cameras were static and three were capable of rotating 360 degrees for capturing images from all round. Each camera has a storage capacity of 120GB.
"It is a well known fact that Jantar Mantar is a hub for all kinds of demonstrations, protests and political gatherings, which sometimes become difficult for us to handle. The new cameras will help police officers monitor each and every movement of people participating in protests and gatherings," the officer said. Explaining the system for monitoring the gatherings, the officer said: "Images provided by the cameras will be watched on television screens kept in the office of the deputy commissioner police for New Delhi district. This will help the officer to take stock of the situation instantly."
7 July 2004, Ireland: "SIPTU threatens further strike action at NCT centres," by Sean McCarthaigh and Peter Gleeson, The Irish Examiner.
SIPTU has warned of a series of further one-day stoppages at National Car Test (NCT) centres unless a dispute about recent dismissals and the use of hidden cameras is resolved. More than half of NCT centres were closed yesterday as SIPTU members staged industrial action in protest at a series of sackings. Union members have also been angered by the use of surveillance equipment and the hiring of private detectives by National Car Testing Services (NCTS). In particular, SIPTU, which represents over 250 employees at the company, is angered by the recent dismissal of a worker at the centre in Naas, Co Kildare, which it believes is symptomatic of the use of an arbitrary disciplinary policy by NCTS. Twenty-four of the 43 NCT centres were closed yesterday with more operating at reduced capacity [...]
The NCTS spokesperson said hidden cameras had been installed as a safety and security measure. In rarer instances, she claimed such equipment had been used to provide proof of gross misconduct among employees. She also said the company was surprised by yesterday's industrial action as SIPTU representatives had indicated their approval of the use of cameras in a draft agreement drawn up last March. SIPTU maintains the use of such equipment runs contrary to building a constructive industrial relations environment in NCTS.
"The union will continue to engage in one-day strikes at various test centres around the country in order to impress on management that our members will not accept such arbitrary unfair treatment at their hands," said union official, Frank Jones. SIPTU has now called on the Department of Transport to mediate in a bid to avoid further disruption [...]
14 July 2004, Ireland: Secret cameras spark strikes in NCT centres.
Ballina and Westport car test centres were both hit with one day strikes last week after staff members became aware that they were being surveyed by secret cameras and private investigators. A total of 72 car tests were cancelled in Mayo on Tuesday last when three testers in Ballina and four in Westport went on strike, over these extra supervision techniques and the sacking of 10 union activists.
The NCT Service Ltd, which operates the car testing service on behalf of the Government, is responsible for the implementation and operation of the car testing service in Ireland. The Swiss company says it was surprised at the announcement of the one day strike with provisional agreement on the cameras made in March.
"It was totally out of the blue; we were happy to go through normal industrial relations procedures." NCT Service Ltd says the cameras were introduced for "safety and security reasons" and "staff agreed to have concealed cameras installed in rare cases of gross serious misconduct".
Union official, Christy Cullen, said staff only became aware of this extra surveillance during negotiations over staff dismissal in March of this year. "Staff are closely supervised at present and secret cameras are an invasion of privacy and a breach of civil liberties," he said. With the Right's Commissioner deeming nine out of ten dismissals as unfair, Mr Cullen is adamant that staff were sacked because they were visually inspecting some cars on their second testing which incurs no cost. "The company said a pattern was building up which wasn't true," said the Union official.
NCT Service Ltd argue that secret cameras are only installed if a "full documented report is submitted about an incident at the centre" to allow the company to investigate complaints and insurance claims. NCT Service's Sinead Green pointed out that staff who were dismissed in 2000 did not lose their jobs because they were union members. "A number of staff were dismissed for various reasons, including not having the qualifications they had previously claimed." A 10-week strike hit the company in 2001 and since then industrial relations have been deteriorating; this latest action highlights the need to improve staff morale [...]
19 July 2004, Athens, Greece: Athens readies airship for Olympic terror patrol by The Associated Press.
[...] Last month, the government announced it will not dismantle closed circuit television cameras after the Olympics, spurring a protest campaign that has included street rallies and indignation from privacy advocates. Those angry at the high cost of security have begun hanging "electronic informer" posters under surveillance cameras [...]
22 July 2004, Athens, Greece: Athens faces protests, ambulance strikes CBC Sports Online.
Ambulance drivers and paramedics in Athens sparked violence Thursday when they threatened to strike during next month's Summer Games. Anti-Olympic demonstrators hurled a gasoline bomb outside Greece's interior ministry and spray painted the cement bases of new surveillance cameras in the city centre. No arrests or damage was reported as the estimated 500 protesters later dispersed peacefully. Ambulance drivers and paramedics declared a 24-hour nationwide strike on Aug. 5 and 24-hour strikes for every day during the Games from Aug. 13 through Aug. 27. Thursday's incident was the latest sign of trouble in Athens, as protest groups have vowed to continue street rallies through the Games and labour unions threatened protests to demand Olympic bonuses [...]
30 July 2004, Athens, Greece: Security airship guards Athens by Harry de Quetteville.
[...] Athenians have begun to hit back. A demonstration last week in a central square drew 500 protesters. A petrol bomb was thrown at the interior ministry, and red crosses were painted on the 18ft high concrete bases of some observation cameras. Other campaigners have plastered "Warning: Camera" stickers across the city to alert passers-by to the presence of the monitors. "While 30 years have passed since the junta's overthrow, democratic rights and civil freedoms are shrunk and the streets are full of cameras supervising and following up on the citizens," the Anti-2004 campaign group said in a statement.
Newspapers have taken up the debate. "The government should take the necessary measures to safeguard the Olympics, but it is hard to comprehend the excesses we have witnessed in security measures," the daily Ta Nea commented. Greek police maintain that security measures have been implemented with "complete respect for human rights." Protesters have vowed to spray-paint street cameras, but appear impotent to obstruct the spy in the sky. It is to patrol with nine police helicopters, and can "hang around" for much of the day without the need to refuel.
23 April 2005, Hellikon, Greece: CAR BLAST: Hellenikon arsonists had probably vandalized road cameras, police say.
Arsonists who targeted a car belonging to a Public Works Ministry employee in the Athenian suburb of Hellenikon early yesterday morning had probably been involved in previous attacks on road surveillance cameras, police said. The car was severely damaged after vandals threw a stick of dynamite at the vehicle. The owner of the car, an official from the ministry's traffic monitoring unit, had defended the use of surveillance cameras during a TV interview earlier this week.
15 June 2005, Brantley, Alabama: Security Camera Protest.
Some Crenshaw County residents say their privacy is being violated and are asking the city council to do something about it. Protestors marched in downtown Brantley Tuesday saying some recently installed residential security cameras are violating their Fourth Amendment.
The city council says the cameras are used for security purposes for the housing authority apartments. However, some homes were also included in the surveillance. Protestors say the city has no reason to put cameras in the area.
The city council voted unanimously to shield the cameras so they only focus on the housing authority apartments. Protestors say they are satisfied with the vote, but will eventually try to persuade the city to get rid of all the cameras.
22 June 2005, Naples, Italy: Naples commissary remains open despite strike by Italian workers, by Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes, European edition.
Italian commissary workers at the Gricignano Support Site base conducted a daylong strike Tuesday. But despite the walkout, the store remained open. Employees sought to draw public attention to two labor complaints: one that centers on the termination of two specific employees; the other on the installation of surveillance cameras, which labor union representatives say violate Italian law.
While the strike and protest in front of the main gates to the military base caught some officials by surprise, union representatives Thursday had filed a "state of agitation" letter, which served as the official five-day notice for a possible strike, said base spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Jacky Fisher, and Robert Cloella, the commissary director. Regional representatives for the two unions that represent all Italian employees on U.S. military installations throughout Italy said the Defense Commissary Agency local national employees voted in favor of the strike during a Tuesday morning assembly because they felt ignored by base leadership. But when representatives secured a meeting with the new commanding officer, Capt. Floyd Hehe, for next Wednesday, they called off the public protest but kept the daylong strike in place. Shortly after 2 p.m., employees left the support site and went home. Business was expected to return to normal Wednesday.
The workers are protesting DECA's plans to terminate two Italian employees who no longer can perform heavy-duty work such as lifting, said union representative Ernesto Festa. For three years, the unions have been asking for the employees to be transferred to light-duty work, such as cashiers, but the request has been denied, said representative Gennaro Di Micco.
The brand-new commissary, which opened to the public May 7, has surveillance cameras that watch both customers and employees in their work environment -- a violation of an Italian law, Di Micco said. Those issues will be discussed with Hehe during next week's meeting, base officials said [...]
12 August 2005, Loves Park, Illinois: Vandals Damage Local War Memorial by Rebecca Burlette, WIFR.
Loves Park Police couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the video. Three teens vandalizing the Field of Honor war memorial and it's all caught on tape.
"It's a shock that something like that would happen there because it's a beautiful memorial. It was built to honor the veterans who've died fighting for our country" says Chief Deputy Jim Puckett of the Loves Park Police Department.
Loves park police hoped surveillance cameras would prevent vandalism instead it was the camera that was targeted. At first the two girls and boy appear to be checking the memorial out. Then the boy runs over to the camera and begins beating it with his skateboard. Arthur Anderson who helped make the war memorial a reality says this isn't the first time vandals have tried to destroy the field of honor.
"Three boys stole 10 musical instruments. Got pictures went through whole school system couldn't find them." Says Anderson In the past vandals have also broken guns and arms off some of the statues. "As a vet myself it hurts you feel it that people would damage markers like that." says Puckett.
The vandalism occurred on Wednesday, August 3rd at 10 p.m. Loves Park Police are looking for a white boy and two white girls in their teens. If you have any information you're asked to call Crimestoppers. Your anonymous tip could lead to an arrest and a cash reward of up to a thousand dollars.
30 August 2005, Winnipeg, Canada: "Vandals attack traffic cams," Winnipeg Free Press.
Four Canadian red light cameras vandalized and one UK speed camera destroyed in recent attacks. Several red light and speed cameras in both Canada and the UK have been destroyed or vandalized in the past week. Around 3 a.m. on Monday in Lancashire, UK a burning tire completely destroyed a speed camera. This is the second time the camera located on Riversway in Preston has been burned. Dozens of cameras in the area have suffered a similar fate over the past two years.
In Winnipeg, Canada a pickaxe smashed three of the city's thirty red light cameras between last Thursday and this Monday. According to the police, the cameras' internal workings survived the attacks. Spraypaint was used to disable a fourth camera located at Portage Avenue and Dominion Street. In 2004, five of the city's cameras were knocked down, run over, and assaulted with a pickaxe. In March 2003 a man used a shotgun on a camera located at Marion Street. Winnipeg officials want to double the number of red light cameras in the city having collected $35,501,529.55 in revenue since the devices were activated in January 2003. ACS takes its own share of the profits with a $30.8 million contract.
5 September 2005, Colchester, England: "Camera arson attack," Evening Gazette.
A burning tire inflicted severe damage upon a speed camera in Colchester, UK on Saturday. Colchester is one of Britain's oldest towns located 54 miles north of London.
21 September 2005, New York, New York: Protest Over Metal Detectors Gains Legs as Students Walk Out Fernanda Santos, The New York Times.
The first rumors started swirling last spring, in hushed talks in the classroom, amid hallway banter, in lunchtime chats at pizza parlors along Jerome Avenue. Metal detectors were coming to DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. By the time the summer school term began, students were noticing the newly installed surveillance cameras along DeWitt Clinton's stairwells and the shell of a metal detector perched beyond a side door.
"The school is on lockdown," one student wrote on an Internet message board, Sconex.com. Soon, instead of their usual postings about classmates turned couples, prom king contenders and unbearably hot days of boredom at home, students were complaining about the changes that awaited them - and, eventually, organizing a protest. Two days ago, all the planning became a reality. For the first time in recent memory, 1,500 New York City high school students skipped classes, marched for two miles and got what they wanted: a sit-down meeting with school administrators, who have agreed to meet with students again and listen to their demands.
How they got to this point is a lesson in modern-day democracy that blends teenage angst and the Internet; a show of force borne out of disagreement and frustration among the students of one of the city's most traditional and toughest high schools. The Education Department installed the metal detectors because of DeWitt Clinton's high crime rate, one that is 60 percent higher than the citywide average for schools of the same size. But the protest was not violent, said Edward Jackson, 17, a senior and a tight end on the high school's football team.
"It was a good protest, the way protests should be," he said. "We got a chance to show that we care about what goes on in our school. We were able to express our point of view" [...]
The protest started to gather steam on Sept. 14, six days after the school year began. That morning, at each of the 10 periods of gym class, school safety officers explained to the students how the process would work: Line up, remove metal from your pockets, take off your belt and walk through the metal detector. Book bags would be searched, too, scanned by X-ray machines like those at airports, and, starting Monday, no one would be allowed to leave the building at lunchtime. The safety officers said it would be too hard to screen all the returning students.
It did not sit well with Jose David, 17, a senior. Last Thursday, he circulated a petition against the lunchtime confinement and the metal detectors.
"In 46 minutes, I got 266 signatures," he said. On Friday, Mr. David posted a message on the Sconex.com site and invited students to join him in a protest on Monday. The plan was to gather south of the school and stand there, silently, until the end of the first period of classes [...]
At 7 a.m., Mr. David said, he found himself standing alone on the lawn outside the high school while other students queued up around the block, waiting for the security clearance to get in. [...] But as the time passed and the line into the school grew, clusters of frustrated students decided to join Mr. David. By 11:30 a.m., they numbered 1,500, said Mr. David and other students outside the school yesterday [...] Three hours later, the protesters arrived at the Department of Education's office at Fordham Plaza, two miles away, carrying banners and demanding to be heard. Four students were eventually invited in. They asked that the metal detectors and security cameras be removed, that they be allowed to have lunch outside the school, and that an earlier ban on cellphones be lifted. None of the new rules were eliminated, but officials agreed to keep listening. Guidance counselors are to meet today to select a team of student representatives who will present the student demands and negotiate with the administration [...]
"This is just the beginning," said Anthony Stafford, a student. "The protest was just to get the word out that we're serious about being heard."
22 September 2005, Masteron, New Zealand: Camera vandal snapped in the act.
A young Masterton man who attacked one of the town's street surveillance cameras with his skateboard late on Tuesday night apparently overlooked one possibility -- that it might take his picture. Yesterday the man appeared in Masterton District Court facing charges of intentional damage and disorderly behaviour. He was remanded until October 25 with conditions imposed on his bail. The man is not to consume alcohol or go into Queen Street and is to live where directed until such time as his next court appearance. Police apprehended the man after staff monitoring the surveillance cameras alert a police patrol to an attack on a camera in Queen Street.
4 October 2005, Birmingham, England: "Anger as vandals hit speed camera," Birmingham Sunday Mercury.
A Birmingham, UK speed camera has been beheaded. The Truvelo photo ticket machine, located on the A452 between Chelmsley Wood and Castle Bromwich, had been installed earlier this year. This week, vigilantes knocked over the camera's mounting pole and removed the camera head. The West Midlands Casualty Reduction Partnership which operates the device did not comment on the situation.
5 October 2005, Norwich, England: "Speed camera arson was waste of time," Norwich Evening News.
Daniel Wardall, 18, plead guilty to charges of arson after he set fire to a speed camera in Norwich, UK on September 12. Wardall poured metholated spirits into the camera housing and ignited the mixture, burning the camera located A146 road at Thurton. His actions were unecessary, as the device had already been knocked out of commission by an attack earlier that same day that came on top of an attack earlier in the same week. As a result, prosecutors estimated Wardall caused only 200 pounds in damages. He was sentenced to 250 hours of community service, a 45 pounds fine and a year-long driver's license suspension.
16 October 2005, Sydney, Australia: "Camera vandals," Daily Telegraph.
With three-quarters of New South Wales, Australia speed cameras coming under attack, the government wants more cameras to watch over the speed cameras. Violence against speed cameras in New South Wales, Australia has become so prevalent that Roads Minister Joe Tripodi announced yesterday that additional cameras will be installed at thirty-seven speed camera sites to watch over the state's photo radar machines.
"I have a message for would-be vandals -- there is now a greater chance of you being caught and prosecuted," Tripodi said. Over the past two years, the network of 109 cameras has been attacked 74 times. Last November, a torched Queanbeyan camera cost A$110,671 to replace. Last July, a Ourimbah camera was pried open and the camera removed. Past efforts to monitor speed cameras with surveillance cameras has resulted in a string of attacks on the surveillance equipment immediately prior to attacks on the ticketing machines.
Last year, speed cameras generated A$54,069,259 in revenue for the NSW government. The state's top fifteen cameras generated over a million in revenue each.
26 October 2005, Edinburgh, Scotland: Mystery after middle-aged vandal's spate of attacks on CCTV cameras by Alan McEwen.
A middle-aged vandal has been caught on close-circuit TV after launching a bizarre graffiti campaign - against spy cameras. The man, who is believed to be in his 40s, has targeted Goodwin Antiques in Queensferry Street in a series of attacks protesting against the shop's cameras. The most recent incident, on Sunday night, saw him splatter red paint over the front of the shop, which specialises in silver and jewellery. Earlier incidents have seen him gouge holes in the walls with a screwdriver and attach stickers on its windows with messages such as "Stop Spying" and "No CCTV". His activities have left the shop's owners and police baffled as well as causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. The campaign began around a year ago and is thought to be aimed at the four cameras fitted on the interior and exterior of the family-run store. The owners, brothers Ben, 34, and Joe Goodwin, 31, installed the system following a spate of break-ins in the West End. They have been left perplexed by the one-man anti-surveillance protest.
"He's not some teenager in a hoodie," said Ben. "He looks like a respectable middle-aged man. In the latest incident, he was wearing a tweed jacket. He started off attaching stickers on the windows with written messages and moved on to scraping the shop front," said Ben. "Then on Sunday we found it had been defaced with red paint. "It had only just been repaired and the damage now runs into thousands of pounds. It's all been extremely odd but he obviously has a real issue with us. He must have it in his head that we should take out the CCTV. It's so strange because we are not the only shop around here with CCTV so I don't know why he's picking on us. And it's not used for surveillance anyway. The cameras are only used once any crime has occurred."
Mr Goodwin says vandalism is a frequent problem in the West End but was surprised to discover the culprit "looked like a lawyer or something". "We didn't recognise him but he looks well-dressed and we think he's probably local," he added. "The cameras are good quality and have infra-red so we have a good picture of him." The suspect is described as late 30s to early 40s, 5ft 11in, slim build with light hair.
Mr Goodwin's father Ronald, 68, opened the first Goodwin Antiques store in Rose Street in the 1960s and later opened the Queensferry Street branch. Now semi-retired, he leaves the daily operations of both stores to his two sons.
"It's proving to be very frustrating and we don't know how we are going to stop this person," added Ben. "We have thought about hiring a private detective. I think it's part of the general decline of the West End with the frequent break-ins and rubbish building up. The police said there was nothing they could really do about it at the moment. Just about every store has been broken into here and that's why we got the cameras in the first place."
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "Our inquiries are still ongoing into this matter but anyone who has information on the vandalism at the Goodwin Antiques shop on Sunday night should contact police."
15 December 2005, Korea: "The dark side of IT: privacy erosion," by Lee Min-a, Joon Gang Daily.
Shin Ae-ja used to spend the afternoon picking up her two daughters from school after work. But that was before Big Brother intruded into her life. These days the kids' grandmother gets them from school while Ms. Shin joins "comrades" for sit-in protests in front of the National Assembly building in Yeouido. Ms. Shin is one of 13 female factory workers from Hitec RCD Korea, a manufacturer of model airplanes. Taking turns on a nearly 200-day protest, the women want the government to punish their employer, whom they accuse of secretly watching them through closed-circuit television cameras at the factory, and compensate them for medical expenses incurred while treating their psychological suffering.
"We are victims of an illegal surveillance system," read posters hanging around their protest tent. "We are hurt and suffering from mental trauma."
Of the 13 women, five have been fired by the company for causing labor disputes. But their real crime, they say, was complaining about the company's surveillance system which appeared to target women who joined the labor union. The company responded that the cameras are for security, and said it removed several after the local media reported on the issue earlier this year. But workers note that cameras remain -- particularly near where the so-called "troublemakers" are working.
"When I found out that the company had been watching me all along, I couldn't stop shaking," said Ms. Shin, who has worked at the same firm for 18 years -- since the age of 20. She started having headaches and developed a habit of covering cracks in the walls with newspapers to prevent someone from watching her, she said. Ms. Shin and her colleagues want their employer to be punished and the quasi-governmental Korean Labor Welfare Corporation to recognize the sleeping pills they used to cope psychologically as treatment for an "industrial accident," which would qualify them for reimbursement.
The Korea Labor Welfare Corporation has yet to do so, said Lee Min-jeong, a member of a civic group that supports the victims. "The labor organization may have 'advised' the company to stop making the workers uncomfortable, but that is not legally binding." Ms. Shin said she does not know when she will feel better or stop protesting. To draw attention to her and similar cases, a coalition of advocacy groups linked to an international privacy movement last month handed out "Big Brother Award Korea" to companies, government bodies and individuals who have done the most to threaten personal privacy.
"There are very serious cases prevalent throughout the country, but some people do not even know or care whether their privacy is being invaded," said Kim Jeong-woo, policy coordinator at Jinbonet, an advocacy group for privacy, and an organizer of the Big Brother Award Korea. "Actually, a lot of what invades personal privacy has already become part of our daily lives."
According to the advocacy groups, people were far less sensitive about disclosing their personal information when they had reasonable excuses. Most people were very generous about giving away personal and biological information for the sake of convenience.
"Technology using finger prints, the iris of the eyes, radio frequency identification methods, surveillance cameras and cell phones. There lie potential dangers in these scientific benefits," said Mr. Kim. But neither Mr. Kim nor the group oppose technological development. He supports a digitally sophisticated society under the condition that individuals are fully aware of what they can gain and lose. He points to the controversy surrounding proposals to set up closed circuit television cameras in the streets of Seoul after Gangnam district reported a 32 percent decline in the number of criminal cases after cameras were installed in the district. But according to a separate study by civic groups and the Democratic Labor Party, although cameras led to a decrease in criminal cases -- to 95 from the previous 122 -- in less than six months, the cases jumped back to 123 again, showing the fleeting effect of the cameras. The overall crime rate in Seoul has decreased by 0.01 percent from last year, the study said, but for Gangnam, the rate increased by 16.7 percent.
"The cameras only helped to reduce the rate of public urination and graffiti," Park Jun-woo, an activist, wrote in the privacy advocacy magazine NetWorker. For this reason, the Gangnam district office was also a strong candidate for the Big Brother Award Korea. However, the "Most Appalling Project" award was "won" by Korea's resident registry system, which assignsa national ID number to every citizen.
"It's the remains of the dictatorial government," read the final judges statement. "The system was responsible for creating various leaks of personal information."
The award for "Worst Public Servant" went to the Ministry of Information and Communication for enforcing a real-name policy on all Internet activities.
"It was hypocritical for the ministry to seek ways to force people to disclose their real names on Web pages, when its slogans advocate freedom on the Internet," said the judges.
Hitec RCD Korea came close to receiving the "Most Invasive company" award, but the final honor was given to a recipient ambiguously referred to as "the third person responsible for the Samsung SDI case," in which Samsung was suspected of using company cell phones to eavesdrop on conversations and track the location of employees affiliated with labor unions. However, the case was eventually dismissed by prosecutors due to a lack of evidence.
Unsurprisingly, no recipients showed up to accept their awards at a ceremony held in Daebang-dong in western Seoul earlier this month. But the civic groups used the occasion to firmly make their point.
"Technology and convenience can never be reasons to undermine people's privacy," said Oh Byoung-il, executive director of Jinbonet.
3 April 2006, Hania, Greece: "Greek anarchists steal security cameras," United Press International.
The director of the Mediterranean Architecture Center in Hania on the Greek island of Crete is incensed that all the center's security cameras have been stolen. Aris Papadoyiannis told the Kathimerini news service the discovery was made Sunday morning, and called the theft "unacceptable" and "illogical." The theft occurred after a daytime demonstration by anarchist groups in Hania demanding a ban on closed circuit security TV systems, the report said. Anarchist leaflets were found scattered around the center. Papadoyiannis, who said the cameras were only switched on when the center had collections, conferences or exhibitions, vowed to hunt down the theives.
9 April 2006, Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgarians Object Surveillance Street Cameras, the Sofia News Agency.
A Bulgarian association has called for a protest against placing surveillance cameras at public places. Members of the "Society for New Bulgaria" announced in Pleven that mounting such cameras was a way for the state to meddle with citizens' personal business. A total of 107 cameras had been placed all over Sofia over the past week and the trend of strengthening video surveillance is evident all over the country, the society claims. Soon citizens might find themselves dependant on those who own this information, especially if they decide to use it the wrong way, members fear. Living in true order, peace, and mutual respect was mainly up to the people themselves, so the decision about the cameras should be theirs as well. To that effect, the society will open an online poll, querying people about their own opinion on the government's idea. Should most of the replies state a discontent with the cameras, the society would go to the local ombudsman and accuse the government of a drastic civil rights infringement.
1 May 2006, Vermont, USA: No Candid Cameras: After outcry, Vermont village rejects federally funded security surveillance by Diann Daniel, CSO Online.
Places as varied as Washington, D.C., Tazewell, Va., (population 4,200) and college campuses deploy surveillance cameras as a way to fight crime. But cameras placed in public venues highlight a struggle fraught with heated emotion: security versus privacy. Bellows Falls, a Vermont town with 3,000 residents and eight full-time police officers, was home to such a struggle last winter. In February, town trustees voted down plans to install 16 surveillance cameras, a plan funded by a federal grant. Chief Keith Clark proposed the project at the end of 2004 as a way to support crime-fighting efforts (particularly antivandalism), speed investigations and guard critical facilities such as the water treatment plant. Bellows Falls, he points out, does have crime; the village reported no murders, but there were 11 aggravated assaults, two rapes and 16 burglaries in 2004. The village received $98,664 in grant money from the Department of Justice COPS Technology Program and approval from the town trustees. Clark publicized the project, but he says it received little notice, at first.
Then came the privacy concerns furor. At the end of December, the Brattleboro Reformer ran the headline "Spy cameras coming to BF" in the midst of media revelations that President Bush had approved domestic surveillance on Americans' communications without a court warrant. Bellows Falls' camera project "wasn't an issue until surveillance broke in the press; it became part of something much bigger," says town trustee Luise Light, who once called the project "wonderful." No longer. "Some of our feelings may be extreme, but we have reason to be cautious," she says. Light says she worries that tapes of civic demonstrations would be kept by the federal government and used against citizens.
Citizens in Bellows Falls are not alone in these concerns. Take Dillingham, Alaska. So far, more than 200 residents have signed a petition demanding the town take down the 80 not-yet-active surveillance cameras installed primarily in its port areas, according to CBS News. Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says he finds the cameras unnecessary in a small town with a low crime rate. Further, he believes the cameras, which have pan-tilt-zoom capabilities, went further than what courts have allowed -- cameras that see no more than a cop on the beat. Such systems inhibit people's freedom of expression, says Gilbert.
Clark sees the issue differently. Cameras can speed crime investigations, he says, leaving police more time for community watch and involvement. Clark also says he believes in clear usage policies for the systems. He points out that the images are erased and taped over after seven days. Only images to be used in court cases, or in investigations, would be copied for long-term use.
For now, privacy concerns have trumped surveillance cameras in Bellows Falls. After the media coverage, residents circulated a petition against the project (the petition received 200 signatures from residents and 300 others from people who live as far away as Washington, D.C.). On Feb. 14, town trustees voted the plans down. Of this controversy, Clark says he learned a valuable lesson: "A mistake I made was underestimating the impact the media can have on a project like this. Do everything you can to educate the public on what the system [you are considering] is capable of, and continue monitoring how they feel."
25 May 2006, New York City, USA: "NYC students protest school metal detectors," the Associated Press.
More than 100 students protested safety policies in the nation's largest school system, demanding an end to metal detectors and random scanning procedures and seeking a greater voice in crafting school policies. Protesters gathered Thursday at the Department of Education headquarters in Manhattan armed with 8,000 postcards addressed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, schools Chancellor Joel Klein and police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
"Metal detectors, armed police officers, random scanning and surveillance cameras are supposed to make us safer, but instead they make us feel like criminals," the postcards said. "We go to school to learn and to prepare for college. We are tired of having our dignity taken away, and we believe that students, the largest single population affected by school policies, deserve to be listened to and treated with respect."
The protest was organized by the Urban Youth Collaborative Student Union, a student activist group seeking to influence school reform policies. Of the city's more than 1,400 schools, about 80 have permanent metal detectors. Under the random scanning program, implemented in late April, up to 10 schools a day get temporary detectors.
Also Thursday, the New York Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Bloomberg and Klein asking the Department of Education to launch a study of how the metal detector program affects the educational environment in schools.
"In general, such over-policing creates a fortress-like atmosphere in the schools," said the letter, signed by Donna Lieberman, the NYCLU's executive director. "This atmosphere is incompatible with the idea of the school as a nurturing environment conducive to learning and to cultivating academic skills and competencies."
A Department of Education spokesman said there are no changes planned for the safety policies in the school system, which has about 1.1 million pupils.
26 May 2006, Toronto, Canada: "Cab Surveillance Cameras Misused," AM 640 Toronto News Bureau.
It's like snapping a photo with no film in the camera. AM 640 Toronto Radio has learned about an ongoing investigation into the shocking misuse of mandatory surveillance cameras in Toronto cabs. It started when Staff Sergeant Clive Richards attempted to download images of a crime, and discovered the camera's hard drive was missing. Days later, a Toronto cabbie is killed, and Staff Sergeant Richards once again tries to recover the evidence.
"We found again that there was no C.P.U., and the wires were just hanging there."
Police eventually figured out that six Toronto cabs were sharing a single hard drive, making the cameras in the other five cabs effectively useless. Staff Sergeant Richard estimates only about 50 per cent of cabs he works with contain usable information. Much of it can't be accessed, because of a lack of compatible hardware. In other cases, drivers are interfering with the camera because, for some reason, they don't want to be recorded.
16 August 2006, Connersville, Indiania: Camera in 911 office irks officials, by Pam Tharp, Palladium-Item.
A surveillance camera put in the Fayette County 911 office by the Connersville mayor was to be removed Tuesday as county commissioners consider relocating dispatchers to county property. Connersville Mayor Max Ellison had the camera put in place last week because he had security concerns about some of the activities of dispatchers, he told the county commissioners at a meeting Tuesday. Ellison told commissioners he's been gradually tightening security in the building, which also houses the city police. At one time, pizza delivery drivers had the building's security codes to deliver pizza directly to dispatchers, Ellison said.
"(Dispatchers) had family members coming and viewing (computer) screens with writs and warrants. When you confronted people, they denied doing it. Cameras seemed a way to stop the discussion," Ellison said. "Then they covered the camera with newspaper." After the camera appeared Aug. 8, some dispatchers complained to Fayette County Commission President Russ Sidell. Sidell said he told dispatchers to cover it.
"There is a lease agreement on that room. I felt the commissioners should have been involved in the camera decision," Sidell said. "If (the mayor) got control of the room, maybe we should take the people out of there. I'm not happy with cameras on people."
The county pays $1 a year to the city for the space. Connersville pays $110,000 a year to the county for the dispatch services.
Ellison said the camera idea was discussed in general terms with the commissioners in the past. The camera wasn't installed surreptitiously and the 911 supervisor was told, he said. Eight surveillance cameras were installed throughout the city building, Ellison said. The commissioners Tuesday also ordered 911 supervisor Jane Sparks to move her office back into the dispatch room, to better supervise dispatcher activities. Sparks, who was placed on 180 days of probation by the commissioners in July, didn't tell the commissioners about the camera. Sparks said she enforces rules on smoking and other issues when she knows about violations. The pizza delivery issue was resolved a year ago, officials said.
"You can't expect Jane to be there 24 hours a day," Ellison said. "You've got seasoned 911 dispatchers going out in the back hall to smoke, smoking in the office. (Your) employees got heated and were up in peoples' faces. It's very difficult for me or the chief of police when (dispatchers) know they don't answer to us."
Several Fayette County residents were also upset about the mayor's surveillance. Resident Diana Walling accused Ellison of making a power play.
"People are afraid to go to the restrooms in the city building for fear of cameras. 'I Spy' is a game and we don't need that in Fayette County," Walling said.
Ellison called Walling's claims "ridiculous."
"I resent the accusations about the restrooms. We're not doing anything illegal. Once you sling it, it's hard to get the mud off," Ellison said.
18 October 2006, Arlington, Texas: 'Bandanna Bandit' Keeps Stealing Security Cameras by Mary Stewart, CBS-TV.
Workers at an Arlington orthodontist's office would like to catch a man who has been visiting their offices lately. The workers have dubbed him the "bandanna bandit" because he wears a bandanna and a smile. He often looks directly into the surveillance cameras and beams broadly. Then he steals the cameras, ripping them from the walls. But workers at Dr. Charles Stewart's office say their computer's hard drive recording system has captured his picture very clearly.
The "bandanna bandit" has struck four times in the past three weeks, most recently early Wednesday morning. Strolling in the side gate at the dentist's office in Arlington, at first he hid his face.
"Then he gets his face up in the camera and even smiles," technician Susan Dodson said. Now, the dental technicians say, he acts as if he owns the place. "He doesn't even cover his face anymore he's just like 'okay!'" Dodson added in disbelief.
Tuesday night, the "bandanna bandit" had his timing down perfectly. It took him only two minutes to swipe the nurses' bench, haul it to the bushes, and take the camera. In all police say he's stolen nine cameras. But for all his speed, police say the "bandanna bandit" may be grinning his way into a felony offense because he's stolen so many cameras. Police have no suspects, but Susan Dodson figures that may soon change: "I'd love for his mom to see him hard at work stealing someone's camera."
26 October 2006, Kelvedon Hatch, England: In Britain, speed cameras face brutal abuse by Sara Lyall, New York Times News Service.
To drive in Britain is to measure out your trip in speed cameras. As inevitable as road signs and as implacable as the meanest state trooper, they lurk everywhere, the government's main weapon against impatient drivers.
It is a shame that so many people hate them.
Among the ways that motorists have made this clear: spraying the cameras with paint; knocking them over; covering them in festive wrapping paper and garbage bags; digging them up; shooting, hammering and firebombing them; festooning them with burning tires; and filling their casings with self-expanding insulation foam that, when activated, blows them apart from the inside out. Visual examples can be seen on the Web site of a vigilante group called Motorists Against Detection, which displays color photographs of smashed, defaced and burned-out cameras -- pornography for the anti-camera movement.
In a nation that is estimated to have some 4 million surveillance cameras -- more per capita than any other in the world, civil liberties groups say -- there are currently as many as 6,000 spots for speed cameras, annoying drivers in the country and in the city, on highways, urban arteries, service roads, suburban streets and rural lanes.
"Speed cameras can't detect tailgating, bad driving, drink driving or drug driving," said a spokesman for the group, explaining his objections. An occasional contributor to British radio debates about traffic regulations, he uses the name Captain Gatso -- after the most common form of speed camera -- because, he says, he wants to avoid arrest. The government does not keep figures on camera vandalism, so it is impossible to confirm Captain Gatso's claim that the group, known more commonly as MAD, has attacked more than 1,000 cameras, or that its members are "grown-up people, with normal jobs, who are cheesed off," rather than hooligans engaging in "willy-nilly childish vandalism" [...]
In a recent case, 28-year-old Craig Moore, an engineer from South Yorkshire, ran into trouble when, in the words of a spokesman for the Greater Manchester Police, "instead of just accepting that he had been caught traveling above the speed limit, Moore decided to blow the camera apart." Using something called thermite, a pyrotechnic substance often used in underwater welding, Moore succeeded in wrecking the camera, but unfortunately for him, its hard drive survived - along with videotape of his van driving toward it and then driving away, as the picture dissolved in a cloud of fiery sparks. He was sentenced to four months in jail. In another instance, John Hopwood, a motorist from Stockport who was caught speeding twice in one trip by two different cameras, saw the camera flashes, then tried to avert the second ticket by taking a 40-mph sign from a road in Manchester and reinstalling it on a lamppost on a 30-mph road in Rochdale, 10 miles away. He was caught and sentenced to 56 days in jail.
Even if they agree that speed limits are necessary, many motorists resent having to obey them all the time. They say they hate being constantly on the lookout for cameras and accuse the government of treating them like roadside cash machines. "It's just a road tax," said Ian Murray, a sales clerk at an army-navy surplus store in Kelvedon Hatch. He understands the need for cameras in residential areas, he said, but feels aggrieved when he sees them on the highway, where the national speed limit is 70 mph, but where the fast lane generally clips along at 80 mph or higher.
"What happens is you see the speed camera, and you put on your anchor and drop your speed, and then when you get past it you speed up again," Murray said. Also, he said, the cameras cause people to brake suddenly, endangering themselves and the people behind them. Paul Smith, head of an anti-camera group called the Safe Speed Road Safety Campaign, said that drivers spend so much time scouring the roadside for cameras that they forget to pay attention to the road.
"We've got a nation of people who have one eye looking out for the next speed camera, another looking for a speed limit sign and another looking at the speedometer -- which is a bit of a shame, when you only have two eyes," he said [...]
Of course, for every ingenious new camera, there is an ingenious new camera-thwarting device. These include constantly updating global positioning system equipment that alerts drivers to speed camera locations and a special material that, when sprayed on a license plate, is said to make it impervious to flash photographs. There are also the low-tech methods of covering a license plate with mud and altering its letters with black electrical tape. But in the end, the effort is not worth it, said Vincent Yearley, a spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, a road-safety organization.
"A lot of drivers feel alienated by speed cameras," Yearley said. "But the best way to deal with a speed camera is simply to comply with the law, and not to set fire to it."
13 November 2006, Halifax, Canada: Police cameras irk activist by Davene Jeffrey, The Chronicle Herald.
Focusing cop cameras on Halifax's known trouble spots is not likely to dramatically decrease crime, but it will cut into every individual's right to privacy, says one resident. Following the recent stabbing death of an American sailor outside a downtown bar, police announced they are adding surveillance cameras to their arsenal of crime-fighting equipment. John van Gurp has made a hobby of noting where surveillance cameras are located around his city.
"I started noticing cameras appearing about three or four years ago, especially on Spring Garden Road," said the federal civil servant. According to Mr. van Gurp's information, many of the downtown hot spots already have cameras in place.
"Businesses decide where they want their cameras for probably security and protection of their own staff and customers," said Sgt. David Reynolds, Halifax police watch commander for Monday's day shift. Having their own cameras allows the department to focus their lenses on known trouble spots, Sgt. Reynolds said. In the past, he has been involved in several investigations that involved getting videos or photographs from private security cameras. He said he's never been in a situation where he's been refused access to those images. But the convenience of acquiring those images has been a problem and sometimes the picture quality has not been good.
"Based on some of the things I've seen out there in private industry in the past, our (security cameras) are certainly rated a step or two above theirs," the sergeant said.
While Mr. van Gurp acknowledges there are legitimate crime concerns in the downtown, resources other than cameras should be considered, he said.
"I don't think installing police cameras or monitors downtown is the answer. I think there are probably other ways and better ways to resolve the issues that don't erode public rights to privacy in public areas," he said. "I see it as a bit of a slippery slope."
Petty Officer 1st Class Damon Crooks was murdered on a sidewalk in front of the Rain nightclub on Argyle Street in the wee hours of Nov. 4. Late-night violence has been a concern over the past few years with the apparent increasing frequency of swarmings, particularly in the vicinity of Spring Garden Road and the area of Blowers and Grafton streets known as Pizza Corner. Following a meeting on violence that Mayor Peter Kelly called days after the death of Petty Officer 1st Class Crooks, the police department announced it had placed cameras in the downtown's busy bar area. The police cameras can be monitored from the police station, but as yet, no one has been tasked with watching them day in and day out, Sgt. Reynolds said.
The province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Office has written video surveillance guidelines meant for police to use as a reference. According to the guidelines, the use of data collected from such cameras should be restricted, its disclosure controlled, its retention limited and its destruction assured. The guidelines also recommend a written policy be developed for the use of such recordings and should identify a person accountable for privacy compliance and privacy rights associated with the system.
29 November 2006, Athens, Greece: "Traffic camera destroyed," eKathimerni.
Eleven traffic surveillance cameras across Athens were destroyed on Monday night, police said yesterday. The attacks took place between 10:50 pm and 3:30 am in central Athens, Nea Ionia, Pangrati, Patissia, Maroussi, Aghia Paraskevi and Neos Cosmos. Police have launched a manhunt for the assailtants.
15 December 2006, Martinsburg, West Virginia: "Security cameras create conflict," by Naomi Smoot.
New security measures have brought tempers in Berkeley County to a boil in recent weeks, as employees have reportedly moved surveillance cameras and security workers claim to have witnessed obscene gestures. More than 100 security camera angles are viewable inside the Berkeley County Judicial Center, an issue that has raised questions for some employees. The devices were installed in an attempt to provide increased protection for employees working in the new state-of-the-art center, but not everyone is happy about it.
"My girls are very upset," Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine told County Commissioners on Thursday. The employees in her office dislike the new cameras, she said.
Commissioners, however, say the cameras are a necessity and are there to stay. "They're going to have to be upset," Commissioner Ron Collins said of the employees.
The cameras were part of a $700,000 security investment aimed at protecting employees and visitors at the new complex, said Commissioner Steve Teufel. He was displeased with reports that Sine's staff members had moved some of the cameras, he added.
Commission President Howard Strauss said, "I will not be supportive of tampering with cameras." There was concern about how the cameras were being used though, Sine said. Commissioners said they were not being used inappropriately.
"Virginia, we don't have time to be Big Brother," Collins said. "This is not a spy camera." Strauss agreed and said that he and others had drafted a letter to all departments housed in the new center. They wanted to make sure that the occupants were not interfering with security devices or otherwise altering the building. Strauss addressed other concerns during the meeting as well, stating that, on Friday, he was told that several of the cameras in Sine's office had been moved. When they were repositioned, he said, "one or two of them (Sine's employees) gave a hand gesture" to the cameras. He referred to the situation as "totally unprofessional."
Sine said she had not been aware of her employees making any such gestures. She also questioned whether the cameras should be such a high security priority for the commission. "They're so worried about the cameras in my office, but the front doors don't even lock at night," she said.
Customers have shown up at the counter after business hours, she said. When asked how they got into the building, she said, they told her they had walked in through the front door.
6 March 2007, Athens, Greece: "Greek arsonists target traffic cameras, bank," Associated Press.
Suspected anarchists destroyed three traffic surveillance cameras within 10 minutes in different parts of Athens early Tuesday, and later attacked a bank, authorities said.
No one was hurt in the attacks.
Bottles filled with gasoline and small cooking gas canisters were used to destroy camera circuitry in the three separate attacks.
Greek authorities are seeking court approval to use traffic cameras for crime prevention and idenifying violent offenders during public protests. Permission has so far been blocked by an independent privacy authority.
Also Tuesday, a branch of the Bank of Cyprus was damaged by exploding gas canisters in the capital's Vyronas area.
Anarchist groups carry out frequent arson attacks in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, and in the past have targeted traffic cameras and cellular telephone masts, occasionally posting photographs of the incident on the Internet.
21 September 2007, Riverhead, Long Island: "LI teachers, parents say cameras intrusive," by John Hildebrand, Newsday.
As schools step up security in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre and other tragedies, growing numbers of Long Island teachers and parents complain that increasingly popular surveillance cameras are beginning to intrude on student instruction. The suspension last week of a popular football coach in Riverhead over his reported refusal to allow a camera to tape his gym class has attracted statewide attention that has union leaders in Albany saying the incident could become a test case of how far surveillance may extend. Teachers were to hold a protest rally this morning in Riverhead, where teacher representatives vow to resist their district's practice of round-the-clock videotaping in a gymnasium and auditorium at the high school. The controversy erupted earlier this month after football coach Leif Shay was suspended from athletic duties, reportedly for helping to cover a camera lens in the gym.
"First of all, it's my impression that it's a violation of the kids' rights," Shay said. "Those cameras can zoom in and tell you what your eye color is. Who can tell what they're being used for?"
Teachers contend that surveillance of physical-education classes is really no different from setting up cameras in regular classrooms - an encroachment few educators would condone. Many teacher contracts expressly forbid taping classes without permission.
"It just makes you feel that somebody is always watching over your shoulder, and that any little thing might be taken out of context," said Barbara Barosa, president of Riverhead's 435-member teacher union. Barosa adds that she has heard from teacher representatives in a half-dozen other local districts, all concerned about similar surveillance issues.
Among those districts is Amityville, where teachers also object to electronic monitoring of classes in the high school gym. Objections are being raised as well at the middle school, against the use of cameras in a gym and computer lab there.
"Certainly, we realize the need for security in a gymnasium, you know, when it's used for an assembly or basketball game," said teacher Carolyn Dodd, head of Amityville's 270-member union. "But not when it's used as a classroom." School officials insist cameras help make students safer. They add that the public has demanded tighter security since the 1999 shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School.
"School security is a big issue in the minds of students and parents," said Diane Scricca, Riverhead's new school superintendent. She took over in July, two years after cameras were installed.
The Riverhead fight predates Scricca's arrival. It began in April when two physical education teacher were suspended, according to local sources, because a tape allegedly showed that the needs of a diabetic child in distress were not being met. Some parents sympathize with the teachers' position that cameras shouldn't be recording their children's fitness classes in gyms or their choral and band rehearsals in auditoriums.
"Knowing guys are taping these things concerns me no end," said Phil Liquori, a computer consultant with two sons attending Riverhead High.
Across the Island as elsewhere, school districts are investing millions of dollars in the latest high-tech cameras that can swivel upon computerized command and zoom in on individuals' faces. Much of the security push is backed by state and federal money. Uniondale installed 162 cameras last year at its high school alone. Great Neck began installing about 250 cameras districtwide. Federal statistics show 60 percent of high schools nationwide have at least one security camera on premises. Most cameras monitor entrances, hallways and stairwells, and don't arouse much controversy. A touchier issue is whether cameras should record activity in areas such as auditoriums and gyms that are sometimes open to the public, but sometimes reserved for instruction. Many, if not most, districts have found ways to avoid confrontation. Great Neck briefly considered the idea of placing cameras in gyms and auditoriums, but quickly ruled that out. Uniondale does keep cameras in such spots, but switches them off during classes.
"We want students, teachers to be comfortable during instruction," said Florence Simmons, principal of Uniondale High School. "We don't want them on camera."
6 October 2007, Riverhead, Long Island: "Coach Shay issues an apology: Note posted on school district Web site admits 'mistake,'" by Denise Civiletti.
Riverhead High School football coach Leif Shay has issued an apology to the Riverhead school district and the community, according to a message posted by the district on its Web site. In the message, Mr. Shay, a physical education teacher at the high school, offers his "sincere apology" for covering up security cameras in the high school gymnasium during a class in the first week of school.
"This is not the direction I would want my students or my own children to follow. I am certainly brave enough to admit when I have made a mistake," the statement says.
Mr. Shay was "reassigned" by the district pending disciplinary proceedings for his actions. His reassignment meant his removal as head coach of the Riverhead Blue Waves varsity football team, which he led in an undefeated season last year, as well as his removal from regular teaching duties. The coach's reassignment met with strong reaction from football players, parents and fellow teachers, who attended school board meetings to protest the district's response to the incident. The Riverhead Central Faculty Association organized demonstrations outside the high school before the start of the regular school day over the past month, to voice its support for Mr. Shay. Students circulated petitions demanding his reinstatement.
No announcement accompanied the posting of the statement on the district's Web site, and school board president Nancy Gassert could not be reached for comment on the posting Saturday morning. It is unknown at this time whether Mr. Shay has been or is about to be reinstated as head coach. Mr. Shay did not return a phone call to his home Saturday morning.
The teachers' union filed a grievance in June over security cameras operating in the gymnasium during classes, which the union says violates its collective bargaining agreement. The grievance came after an incident involving longtime wrestling coach Wade Davey in April, when a diabetic student passed out during a gym class. The incident involving Mr. Davey was captured on a security camera and RCFA president Barbara Barosa said that was the first time teachers realized that the security cameras were running during gym classes.
The district installed the security cameras throughout the high school and the high school grounds in late 2005 at a cost of about $200,000, more than half of which was paid by a federal grant. At the time, Riverhead was one of the first districts on Long Island to have such a system, although other districts have since followed suit. The teachers' contract contains a provision prohibiting the use of electronic surveillance to monitor and evaluate teachers' performance in classrooms, Ms. Barosa told The News-Review.
The note posted on the school district's Web site reads:
To Riverhead Central School District and its Community,
I would like to take this opportunity to issue a sincere apology for my actions regarding the security cameras in the High School. I should have let the grievance procedure take its course. This is not the direction I would want my students or my own children to follow. I am certainly brave enough to admit when I have made a mistake, and it is my hope that we can all learn from this and move forward in the development of our youth.
I look forward to continuing our tradition of excellence here in the Riverhead Central School District. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Sincerely, Leif Shay
8 November 2007, Toronto. Canada: "Big Brother is Watching Toronto," Infoshop News.
Gaetan Heroux of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) told a news conference yesterday in Toronto the city's police surveillance cameras are, "A total waste of money." He and a number of community residents protested the cameras yesterday. Indicating one such camera, Heroux said, "This camera will capture images of hundreds of poor people going into the church looking for warmth, looking for food. These cameras will not feed us. They won't keep us warm and they won't give us housing." Heroux said $2 million given to the city by the province to erect cameras should be allocated elsewhere. "There are serious issues here and there's a pretence that police and cameras can deal with them," he said.
A statement on the OCAP website read:
The Toronto Police are installing several cameras in the area of Dundas and Sherbourne to monitor any "criminal activity" or "anti-social behaviour" that takes place. In the heart of one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods and surrounded by drop-in centres and shelters that are seeing their budgets transfered to the police, it is hard to see how these cameras will put food on the table or roofs over the heads of those in the community. Instead the cameras will record people going hungry and struggling to survive. Zoe Dodd of Street Health Community Nursing Foundations said, "Basic survival needs are not being met."
"You have lots of money, Toronto," said homeless man Steve Boss. "This is no help for poor and homeless people."
Expressing a different point of view was Anastasia Kuzyk, of the Sex Workers' Alliance of Toronto, who said the cameras could be a good thing for prostitutes. "If I was a street prostitute ... you better believe I'd work as close as I could to the camera to make sure the license plate of the car I'm getting into, in case I don't come back, is recorded," Kuzyk said.
Toronto police, who have been experimenting with surveillance cameras in certain high-crime areas around the city, say that cameras are useful in investigations and that footage has helped lead to arrests in killings, sexual assaults, armed robberies and even the rescue of abducted children. In addition to the police surveillance cameras, the Toronto Transit Commission, which provides 1.4 million rides each weekday, is in the process of installing up to 10,000 security cameras in its buses, streetcars and subway system, adding to its current network of about 1,500 cameras. That prompted London-based Privacy International to lodge a complaint Wednesday with Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, denouncing the project as an "unnecessary" waste of resources that violates Canadian privacy laws.
The $21-million project, which was approved by the TTC last spring and received $6.5 million from the federal government under its $80-million Transit Secure program, will be able to snap photos of thousands of daily commuters as well as record audio and video. The system is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2009, Cavoukian said.
"Anything that happens in Ontario ... and in Toronto in particular, will be closely examined in other jurisdictions in Canada," Ariane Siegel, a privacy expert and partner at Gowlings law firm in Toronto told the Canadian Press. According to the Canadian Press, studies of similar transit camera projects in Europe that suggest the cameras don't have much of an effect in deterring criminal activity - in one case in Berlin, crime actually increased - and have even led to abuses.
27 November 2007, Knoxville, Tennessee: "Man arrested for shooting traffic camera," Associated Press.
Police have lost red-light cameras to traffic accidents but never to gun play. "This is the first one that's been shot," Capt. Gordon Catlett said of the wounded camera at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Interstate 640 -- one of 15 camera-equipped intersections in the city. Clifford E. Clark, 47, was charged with felony vandalism and reckless endangerment for allegedly firing at least three rounds from a .30-06 hunting rifle at the camera, knocking it out of action. He was arrested after patrol officers heard shots around 2 a.m. Sunday, spotted a minivan leaving the parking lot of a closed business and pulled it over. Inside they found Clark and the high-powered rifle. Clark, now facing a $50 fine if convicted and loss of his rifle, refused to say anything about the incident to police, leaving the motive unclear.
Catlett, who oversees the red-light camera program, said 6,798 drivers have been photographed running the red light at Broadway and I-640 and ticketed since the camera was installed in 2006. Clark was not one of them, he said.
30 November 2007, Ann Arbor, Michigan: "Camera plan pits security vs. privacy: Student council enlists ACLU to fight school district," by Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, Detroit Free Press.
When Ann Arbor Schools officials brought up the idea of putting surveillance cameras in Pioneer High School, the student council acted quickly. It passed a resolution against the plan and brought in the American Civil Liberties Union.
School officials said vandalism and theft have been a problem at the school and the cameras are a step toward curbing that.
But, "We as Pioneer students were concerned about our privacy, and also about the way that it was brought about," said Bennett Stein, 17, student council executive president, said of the plan. "It was never brought to any student body. Obviously they have to make a lot of decisions without that input, but this is a very big issue, a very important issue."
"We know some people aren't happy," said Ann Arbor Public Schools spokeswoman Liz Margolis, adding that Pioneer, with 3,000 students, is the largest high school in the state.
"They're doing a very good job of stating their concerns. But we really feel their security trumps that, at this point," she said.
Security cameras are fast becoming commonplace in schools across the country. No one knows what percentage of schools have added cameras, but almost all large school systems have them, said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center.
But some worry that the cameras infringe on civil rights and question whether they help with security. The ACLU has requested records from Plymouth Canton, Farmington and other school districts to find out what effect the cameras have had on student safety.
"The ACLU is deeply concerned that public high schools are conditioning students to accept that surveillance is normal," said Mike Steinberg, legal director of the group's Michigan chapter and parent of a Pioneer student.
"Schools are supposed to use their precious resources to teach students to appreciate the freedoms we have in this country, not to create a big brother atmosphere."
The Ann Arbor school board is to take up the issue at its next meeting Dec. 12.
Advocates say cameras are a logical and effective way to help keep kids safe.
"For years we've protected hamburger better than we do our kids," said Ken Trump of National School Safety and Security Services. "In the post-Columbine era, there has been greater emphasis on it, for those schools that can afford it."
What is affordable varies from district to district. Ann Arbor plans to spend $88,000 for 53 digital cameras, Margolis said. The district put in a similar system at Huron High School in March. Principal Arthur Williams said there hasn't been a lot of time to weigh the cameras' effectiveness, but he said he believes thefts have dropped off dramatically.
Pioneer's cameras would be in public areas and not classrooms, bathrooms or locker rooms, Margolis said. And the videos would only be viewed by the principal and what the district calls community workers, employees who help patrol hallways and other public areas.
But Stein said the videos can be obtained by others through the Freedom of Information Act. "It could be posted on YouTube; anything could be taken out of context," he said. "I think people are concerned they're not going to only be used for safety."
14 December 2007, Paris, France: "French speed camera saboteurs demand ransom to halt attacks," Charles Bremner, The Times.
French anti-terrorist police are hunting a "guerrilla" organisation that is blowing up speed cameras and demanding a ransom from the State. Police are taking seriously claims from the Nationalist Revolutionary Army Faction (FNAR) that it is responsible for the destruction of six radar installations on roads in the Paris region over the past six months.
The latest attempted attack was on Tuesday on a motorway close to the village of Baillet-en-France, 20 miles north of the capital. The device, consisting of a bundle of explosive and a timer, did not detonate. It was spotted by a road maintenance team and defused after police closed the motorway for five hours. The FNAR, which also calls itself the National Anti-Radar Front, is reported to be demanding a significant sum of money to halt the attacks, as well as tax cuts and less rigorous enforcement of the law on the roads.
The group sent its demands to the Interior Ministry in October. Worded in the grandiose jargon of 1970s revolutionary groups, it complained about the oppression of "the owner State which robs its citizens". The police said they did not know if they were dealing with one person or a group, "but either way, this is dangerous stuff".
Dozens of France's 1,100 roadside speed cameras have been destroyed or vandalised since they were introduced in 2003 -- later than in most neighbouring countries. The devices have contributed to a sharp drop in road deaths, but many drivers still consider their presence "unFrench" and a breach of their civil rights. Many believe they were created to fill the state coffers with tens of millions of euros in fines a year. Many motorists rejoiced last month when officials reported that speed readings could be exaggerated if the cameras in the steel-encased units were slightly misaligned with the road. The Government said that the report was wrong.
Road safety campaigners deplored the violent attacks on the cameras, which were installed after the former President, Jacques Chirac, decided to get tough on France's high death toll on the roads.
"The speed cameras are more than symbolic," said Chantal Perrichon, president of the League Against Highway Violence. "Thanks to them, we have saved so many lives."
Police said that the attacks, which were carried out with primitive homemade explosives connected to a timer and which appear to be linked, represented a threat to passing drivers. The gang is being compared to a mysterious group that planted bombs on railway tracks in 2003 and demanded a 10 million Euro (7.2 million Pounds) ransom. The authorities made two unsuccessful attempts to pay the ransom, including a delivery by a helicopter that failed to find a rendezvous point designated by the group. The organisation was never traced and disappeared after announcing in 2004 that it was temporarily suspending its campaign while it improved its methods. Police said that the railway group appeared to be more professional than the speed camera saboteurs, but did not rule out a possible link between the campaigns.
President Sarkozy, who was the Interior Minister at the time of the railway campaign, has ordered police to crack down hard on the vandalism of speed cameras, which each cost thousands of euros to install. Attacks on them are not amusing and are an afront to the authority of the state, he said.
Speed cameras per 1,000 sq km:
Ireland 0.3 Germany 0.7 France 2 Italy 7.2 Switzerland 16.1 UK 20.9 Netherlands 37.3 Source: European Speed Camera Database
19 December 2007, Buhl, Minnesota: "Public outcry prompts town to nix surveillance camera plan," by the Associated Press.
The Buhl City Council dropped a proposal to mount six surveillance cameras around town after widespread scorn from the community. About 30 people showed up at yesterday's council meeting to speak in opposition to the proposal from the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department, which is responsible for law enforcement in the Iron Range town of less than 1,000 people. No community residents spoke in favor of the proposal.
Sheriff's Department Sergeant Pat McKenzie said the cameras would have been an investigative tool and a deterrent to crime. But residents didn't buying it, noting the city has had no major crimes.
22 April 2008, Iran: "Students protest against using surveillance cameras in Mazandaran University," Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
On Sunday, students protested against installation of surveillance cameras on the campus of Mazandaran University south of the Caspian Sea. Students petitioning against installation of the monitoring devices on the university campus clashed with the school's security guards. The chief of the security at Mazandaran University threatened the protesters with hauling them before the school's disciplinary committee. The security guards beat up a number of students from nearby Nowshirvani Technical School who had joined the petitioning and forced two of them out of the campus.
In March a similar move of setting up surveillance cameras on the campus of Shiraz University in southern city of Shiraz triggered strong reactions from the students.
The Iranian Resistance calls on all international human rights organizations especially student unions to condemn the mullahs' regime for adopting suppressive measure against the Mazandaran University students. It also calls for defending their rights.
15 May 2008, Durban, South Africa: "Principal ordered to remove surveillance cameras," SABC News.
A Durban school principal has been given an ultimatum to remove surveillance cameras from his school, or face the wrath of the department of education. Teachers at Roseland Primary School in Newlands have refused to teach until the cameras are gone and no schooling has taken place for two months. The security cameras were installed to ensure the safety of both teachers and learners. However, the teachers accused the principal of spying on them and downed tools. The education department says it has had enough.
Meanwhile the cameras were de-activated three weeks ago -- but the teachers say this is not enough. They want them gone. Parents say the provincial education department has failed the learners. Now they want Education Minister Naledi Pandor to intervene.
However it is expected that surveillance cameras will soon become a permanent feature in many more schools around the country. A ministerial progress report, focusing on the nine worst affected schools in terms of crime and violence, indicate these and other security measures will be extended to hundreds of schools in the next two years.
16 May 2008, Stamford, Connecticut: "Cameras are flash point of protests at firehouse," by Wynne Parry, Staff Writer, Stamford Advocate.
Springdale Fire Co.'s decision to install cameras in a common area of the firehouse has ignited protests from the city and the firefighters union, who view the surveillance as harassment of paid firefighters.
Springdale's volunteer membership last month voted to install 16 cameras inside and outside the firehouse because of thefts, burglaries and vandalism. In one incident, a pig's foot turned up in a container of ice cream stored in the day room, where firefighters relax between calls.
"We're worried about everyone's safety and welfare, that's the bottom line," said Walter Magalnick, a member of Springdale's board of directors. "We know something went on. If we don't do something to prevent it, we're liable."
Springdale is a volunteer company but relies on city funding and paid firefighters. Sixteen unionized city firefighters work out of the Hope Street firehouse. Brendan Keatley, president of Stamford Professional Fire Fighter's Association, said placing surveillance cameras in private areas where firefighters relax and eat meals adds to the harassment that paid firefighters have endured.
"They have been unjustly accused by people in Springdale of things they didn't do," he said. "It's just been a constant pattern of employee harassment. They want us out." Keatley said he has no objection to cameras being placed in the garage, parking lot or work areas.
In January, the union filed a grievance over the installation of the cameras in communal areas, and Director of Public Safety William Callion met with Springdale representatives.
"This is not a tenable workplace for city employees," Callion said. "That kind of intrusion 24 hours a day in a setting that's more like being at home is inappropriate." Callion demanded mediation in response to Springdale's decision.
The union is filing charges with the State Labor Board against Springdale and the city for violating its collective bargaining agreement, Keatley said.
The computer system to run the cameras was set up this week, Springdale Chief Shawn Fahan said. "I am not excited that we have to put cameras in. I think it's sad we have to do that," he said. "But a lot of the so-called firehouse humor will cease."
Police responded to a call in April that the radio in the Springdale firehouse had been vandalized, said Lt. Sean Cooney, a department spokesman. When an officer arrived, the assistant chief showed him the radio consul, where he said the volume knob had been removed, then replaced before the officer arrived, Cooney said. Volunteers and paid firefighters were present at the time. Fahan said it was unlikely a volunteer removed and replaced the knob, but he stopped short of accusing a paid firefighter.
"Whoever disabled our radio system, we want charges pressed," he said.
27 May 2008, Santa Cruz, California: "six surveillance cameras destroyed at UC Santa Cruz," by anarchists, Indy Media.
Over the last week, we took out six surveillance cameras from the exteriors of four different buildings on the University of California in Santa Cruz campus. This was an act of rebellion to the social control in our daily lives. These cameras are the eyes of the police.
This task was easy to accomplish, and would be easy for anyone to reproduce. We checked out the camera locations in advance, and came back at night for the attack. We found a few steel barbed-wire fence posts nearby and pulled them up. With just one strike, the cameras broke right off of the walls they were bolted to. We cut the cords (when they didn't just break on their own), bagged them up and took them with us.
There has been a rapid expansion of surveillance technology that affects all of us. From the consolidation of international databases for tracking and monitoring individuals to the placement of cameras in every intersection. From the magnetic card readers at many of the dorms and buildings on the UCSC campus that track and log information on students entering and exiting (which has been used in students' arrests in the past), to the militarization of the borders, preventing our ability to travel and migrate freely, contributing to the organizing of the global economy to the whims of the bosses. There are limitless examples of the pervasiveness of social control technology both locally and globally. There is also a growing resistance.
For the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, the entire city was completely covered with surveillance cameras. Locals there have been attacking them consistently since they were installed, vowing to continue until every last one was destroyed. Like the Athenians, we will not rest until we eliminate every single one we can find.
We live in a panopticon, where the society we live in is modeled after prison. Information is constantly being collected about us, and the threat of being monitored is ever-present. Those in more precarious positions experience this intensely. Undocumented people who were fortunate enough to make it into this country face a continuous threat of raids, indefinite detention and/or deportation by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (also sinisterly known as I.C.E.).
This action is dedicated to those affected by the recent immigration raids in Watsonville, a town just south of Santa Cruz. These raids were part of a nationally coordinated attack on immigrants, with a notable concentration around the Bay Area of California. We invite people everywhere to rise up against every form of social control that affects their lives.
FUCK I.C.E! SPREAD THE REBELLION AGAINST SOCIAL CONTROL!
31 May 2008, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Luther Unit, Navasota Texas: "Prisoners take direct action against surveillance cameras in Navasota TX," by Letter from El Insurgente, Houston IMC.
On or about March 13 2008, 3 groups of prisoners carried out a joint and coordinated direct action at the Luther unit Texas Department of Criminal Justice, located in Navasota TX. The 3 groups of prisoners in 3 of the 4 dorms in C-Hall masked themselves in homemade balaclavas and completely destroyed the $2000 dollar surveillance cameras that had recently been installed in the dorms.
Despite intense pressure from prison administration all 54 men in each of the 3 dorms (162 men in total) maintained their solidarity in the face of harsh collective punishment and refused to inform on any of their fellow prisoners who carried out the action. It is reported that in at least one of the dorms there was a meeting of the prisoners to plan the action in their dorm, discuss the possible outcome, and vote on the action. This type of collective, coordinated direct action is largely unheard of in the draconian Texas prison system and the solidarity of the prisoners strikes fear into the hearts of the prison authorities. The total property destruction is estimated at close to $8000 Dollars which strikes at the pocket book of a vastly over extended prison industry that is experiencing chronic guard and budget shortages.
This past week of May 12-16 new cameras were installed in the dorm and extra security measures are being taken in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the direct action of March. Let us hope that the spirit of rebellion continues and grows.
6 November 2008, George Washington University: "Freshman fights dorm cameras," by Lauren Hoenemeyer, The Hatchet.
Most students pay little attention to the cameras in the corner of every floor of Thurston Hall, but freshman William Leaf can't ignore them. Leaf drafted a petition last week on behalf of residents of Thurston that proposes the abolition of all surveillance cameras in the building. The petition has garnered more than 200 signatures, most of which were collected by going door to door in the freshman residence hall.
"The purpose of this petition is for people to see the bigger picture. Surveillance is underregulated by the government," Leaf said. "The cameras in the hallways cause people to accept them in other communities such as their neighborhoods back home. In the real world, in our free society, people should not accept constant police surveillance in their communities and neighborhoods."
Thurston has four visible security cameras on every residential floor. Other freshman residence halls like Crawford Hall and Mitchell Hall do not have visible security cameras.
"When I came to GW, I was shocked that Thurston had cameras installed in the hallways," Leaf said. "GW should prepare students to be upstanding citizens, but desensitizing students to police surveillance has the opposite effect. It gets young adults used to authoritarianism."
University Police Department Chief Dolores Stafford said cameras have helped alleviate crimes such as theft, vandalism and arson.
"The cameras have been very beneficial to UPD in solving crimes and we would oppose removing them," she said. "In fact, we've had students in other residential facilities request cameras, such as Townhouse Row."
After belongings were stolen from her dormitory, freshman Diana Waldron and her roommates turned to security cameras to identify who stole their possessions. Even though the security cameras aided the investigation, Waldron signed the petition against the usage of cameras in residence halls.
"People are becoming desensitized to cameras, which is a bad thing," Waldron said. "That's why I signed the petition."
While nearby colleges such as American University use surveillance cameras on campus, they do not utilize them in residence halls. Leaf said a program that encourages safety by taking simple precautions is just as effective.
"The way I see it is that we need to be safe and free," Leaf said. "We will be safe by locking our doors and we will be free by getting the cameras out of the hallways."
9 January 2009, Boston, Massachusetts: "As Surveillance Cameras Proliferate, Coalition Forms to Protect Privacy Rights," by Dave Goodman / IBIS Radio (Staff), Open Media Boston.
In an August, 2007 newspaper article, former Boston Globe national legal affairs correspondent Charlie Savage wrote that the federal Department of Homeland Security is "funneling millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a 'surveillance society' in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost, privacy rights advocates warn."
Today, organizers from Boston and surrounding cities and towns, say the timing - the end of eight years of Bush administration secrecy and fear mongering, and the start of the Obama presidency - is just right to start a region-wide campaign to look at the effect on civil liberties and criminal justice of such a 'surveillance society.' Information about the extent of money and infrastructure devoted to surveillance cameras locally is hard to ascertain. In the area of mass transit, according to published reports, the MBTA has approximately 500 cameras throughout its system. But compiling comprehensive information about this technology and how the imagery and other data it collects is being used has become increasingly difficult as lines of authority between federal, state, and local officials have blurred, say concerned activists.
One thing is certain, the amount of information (audio, video, and data) the federal government gathers and shares has increased tremendously since September, 2001. The Department of Homeland Security website states: "The Homeland Security Information Network, which is available in all 50 states, makes threat-related information available to law enforcement and emergency managers on a daily basis through a web-based system. Members of the private sector now receive threat-related information through the HSIN system. In addition, members of 35 different Federal agencies are now all co-located together in DHS's new 24-hour Homeland Security Operations Center, which allows the information coming from various sources to be synthesized together and then shared with other federal partners such as the FBI and the Department of Defense."
Justifications for the use of surveillance cameras range from stopping terrorists and protecting national security to deterring local criminals. But few people outside of law enforcement and national security agencies know exactly how all this compiled data is used and protected from misuse. In Boston, plans to formerly investigate and protest the installation and use of surveillance cameras have accelerated in the years since 2004 when scores of cameras were placed around city streets in the vicinity of the Democratic Party's national nominating convention at the TD Banknorth Garden.
According to Nancy Murray, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Director of Education, and ACLU Staff Attorney Sarah Wunsch, evaluations of surveillance practices around the country indicate that cameras are ineffective in preventing crime and only "minimally good" at gathering useful evidence in criminal investigations. They cite the example of former Oakland Deputy Chief of Police Peter Dunbar whose opposition in 1997 prevented the installation of surveillance cameras in that California city.
"The main argument for not installing the cameras was the public's perception of Big Brother watching over them," Dunbar told the Sonoma County Independent newspaper at the time, "and we didn't want to tear apart our relationship with the community."
In a guest commentary for the Cambridge Chronicle published Wednesday, Nancy Murray of the ACLU asked: "Whose eyes will be watching us as we go about our daily business? Will the digital images be shared -- if so, with what agencies and on what terms? Where will they be stored and for how long? Who will have access to them?"
In other cities, such as Baltimore, officials have lauded the efficacy of the cameras. Opponents counter that the industry that makes and sells the technology has accelerated their marketing to cities at the same time federal grant money through the Department of Homeland Security has become widely available. The money, activist say, is just too hard for municipalities to resist.
The Board of Selectmen in Brookline and the Cambridge City Council are considering proposals to use DHS funding to purchase and install 12 and 8 surveillance cameras respectively. Neither city currently owns and/or operates municipal cameras. There are numerous private cameras however, installed and operated by businesses and institutions such as Harvard University. Boston officials have indicated they plan to use federal money to increase the number of cameras to more than seventy citywide. The Cambridge City Council's Civic Unity Committee has scheduled a public hearing to discuss the Homeland Security grant on Thursday, January 22nd, at 5:00p.m. in Cambridge City Hall.
Yesterday, the ACLU, along with local peace and social justice groups, co-sponsored a planning meeting at its downtown office with the goal of forming a "Greater Boston Coalition to Stop the Cameras." Thirty five people from Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge and other cities and towns participated in the meeting. During a brainstorming session, attendees called for identifying the locations of cameras, researching how local governments plan to use the data they gather, and for much greater public education around surveillance, privacy, and civil liberties issues. Whatever strategies evolve locally, Amy Hendrickson, a leader of the social justice group Brookline Peaceworks, expressed hope that greater Boston's approach becomes a model for other cities around the country.
23 January 2009, Everett, Washington: "Everett bans secret videotaping in classrooms: The pledge is part of an agreement with the teachers union. A lawmaker from Everett hopes to extend the restriction statewide." ByEric Stevick and Jerry Cornfield, Herald Writers, The Daily Herald.
Hidden video cameras will be banned from secretly recording classrooms in the future, the Everett School District has agreed. The pledge was made as part of a settlement with the Everett teachers union, which agreed to drop an unfair labor practice complaint over the practice made against the district. Both sides are happy about the agreement, said Mitch Cogdill, a lawyer who represents the Everett Education Association.
"It's also an indication to anybody looking at it that there is a new era in the district," Cogdill said. "It shows they want to work collaboratively and not be adversarial and to do things that are clearly wrong in an arbitrary way."
Interim Superintendent Karst Brandsma said he hopes the agreement helps establish trust. "You develop trust by being open, honest and forthright, and that's our goal," he said.
Accusations of spying arose after the school district suspended Cascade High School English and journalism teacher Kay Powers in June 2007. She was fired in November 2007 after the district concluded she helped students publish an underground student newspaper while using district equipment. Powers did so against a direct order from Superintendent Carol Whitehead, who has since retired. The teachers' union appealed her firing. A settlement reached last April allowed the 66-year-old instructor to return for another school year before promising to leave the district. She's teaching English at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek through the 2008-09 school year. She also received back pay. Lawyers for the Everett Education Association believed the settlement was offered because the union was prepared to present evidence that the district put a secret surveillance camera in Powers' classroom as part of its investigation. That was something the district had previously denied doing.
Whitehead later acknowledged there had been a camera inside the room recording who entered and left the classroom. She said no illegal audio recording occurred and the surveillance recording was missing. District officials said the vendor was supposed to install the camera outside the door of the classroom. Issues arising from the case against Powers and the Free Stehekin underground student newspaper have cost taxpayers more than $200,000 in attorney fees. The settlement between the district and union states: "Except pursuant to a court order, the district will not allow the installation of a video camera in a classroom or a (union)-represented employee's assigned workspace without the prior written approval of the union president."
As a result of the Powers case, an Everett lawmaker is pushing for a new state law to ensure students, staff and teachers know when video surveillance cameras are monitoring them at schools. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett. Sells said he does not want to outlaw use of cameras. He wants to require district officials notify those in the buildings where they will be used, in the same way they must let people know when they are being recorded on audio devices.
"The whole idea that we have to notify people when audio taping is going and not video cameras seems wrong," he said. Video cameras should be used as a preventive tool, not a "gotcha" device and in the case at Cascade "it was kind of a gotcha thing."
"It is one thing to tell a teacher not to do something but to put spy cameras in the classroom and not tell anybody is another thing," he said. "We just don't do that in America or at least we shouldn't do that."
Kim Mead, president of the Everett Education Association, said she hopes the bill passes into law. "I think it's outstanding," she said.
Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, is the only Republican among the 21 lawmakers signed on as supporters. He serves in the 44th Legislative District, home to many Cascade High School students. Hope, whose wife is a substitute teacher, said surveillance cameras should only be used in public schools as a tool for prevention, not investigation. He described what transpired at Cascade as going "way beyond prevention." The bill also helps ensure student privacy is protected, he said.
27 February 2009, Birmingham, Michigan: "Students fight surveillance plan for some Birmingham high schools," by Emilia Askari, Free Press Staff Writer, The Detroit Free Press.
A rash of robberies from lockers at Birmingham Groves and Seaholm high schools has officials considering installing surveillance cameras, and the discussion has students waging an Internet campaign against what they see as a costly and unnecessary invasion of their privacy. Security cameras already keep an eye on the parking lots at Groves, at 13 Mile and Evergreen in Beverly Hills, and Seaholm, on Cranbrook just south of Maple in Birmingham. Adding cameras inside the schools could cost $100,000 to $200,000, depending on how many cameras are installed, said district spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson. The Board of Education is to explore the cost and other issues March 10.
Though cash, MP3 players and cell phones have been stolen from lockers at Groves and Seaholm, students say they don't want the security cameras. Police are investigating the thefts.
"We can come up with legitimate alternatives to help stop theft," Seaholm student Jake Drutchas wrote on a Facebook page called Seaholm and Groves Students Against Security Cameras, which has more than 860 friends. "For now, let's start with a little student responsibility. Lock your stuff up. Don't leave it out in the open."
Jim Ballard, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, said that most high schools in the state already have security cameras inside their buildings. He said the cameras can deter everything from petty theft to fist fights. But he understands why some oppose them. Locally, districts including Wayne-Westland, Warren Consolidated, Ferndale, Ann Arbor and Taylor use cameras inside and outside schools in buses or parking lots.
"It's one more sign that times are different today," Ballard said. "Years ago, we trusted each other more than we do now. Cameras erode that sense of trust and honor and civil behavior. You would hope that your child goes to a school where there's no need for locks and security cameras. Unfortunately, that's not the case."
Joe Finley, who has a son and a daughter at Seaholm, asked the board a few weeks ago to consider cameras. His son, freshman Colin Finley, is one of several members of the Seaholm swim team who had cash and cell phones stolen from their lockers. "How often does this need to happen before somebody starts taking some action?" Joe Finley asked.
28 February 2009, British Columbia, Canada: "Unions turn focus to school cameras," by Steve Kidd, Penticton Western News.
The controversy over video surveillance has raised its head once again, this time in a controversy over School District 67 placing cameras inside the new Penticton Secondary School building. Both the Okanagan Skaha Teachers Union and the local Canadian Union of Public Employees have raised concerns not only about the cameras themselves but also the way the administration and the board of education handled the matter. Representatives from both unions say the cameras violate a school board policy worked out in 2006 regarding the use of surveillance cameras. Terry Green, OSTU president, said his understanding of the SD67 policy was that cameras were only to be used on the exterior of schools, for the prevention of vandalism. The kind of vandalism that might be done inside a school, he said, would be too minor to warrant the invasive use of video surveillance.
"I would even go on to say that there is very little vandalism done (inside the schools)," he said. "For the most part, our students . . . are pretty good about looking after their buildings." Green said he first became aware of the plan to put cameras in the new school in September, but after raising the issue and requesting to speak to the board of education, was reassured that it was only wiring and that cameras weren't going to be installed. In January, though, it came to light that the cameras had been installed after all, prompting letters from both Green and Zoe Magnus, president of CUPE local 523, to the board regarding their concerns over the use of the cameras and whether the district was complying with their own policy.
Larry Little, chair of the board of education, said he feels procedures have been followed and that the potential prevention of vandalism justifies their use. At present, he said, the cameras are not operational, and will not be until the board has a chance to discuss the issue at their March 4 Building and Grounds committee meeting. There are three cameras at Pen High, one outside the library, one in the main foyer looking to the doors and another overlooking the entrance off Jermyn Avenue. The policy was worked out in 2006, with input from both CUPE and OSTU, Magnus said, after an earlier incident with a surveillance camera.
"This all came about because I found out accidentally that the school district had installed a video camera that was recording images of one of my members at work," said Magnus, referencing the 2005 incident. "There was no signage, there was no consent, there was no reason for it, there was no rationale." The policy was developed to prevent further misunderstandings, and, according to Green and Magnus, references the directives provided by the B.C. privacy commissioner under the Freedom of Information Act, which include requiring a clear and demonstrated need as well as a thorough examination of less invasive alternatives before implementing video surveillance. Magnus said she wasn't satisfied with Little's response or assurance that the cameras had never been used to record images.
"I don't believe that's correct. I believe those cameras have been used to record images, possibly only during testing, but I believe they have been used," she said. Green also feels those requirements haven't been met and the cameras are unnecessary.
"We see this as an encroachment on the rights of privacy for staff and students in the public school system," he said.
28 February 2009, Jackson, Mississippi: "Lawmakers trying to kill traffic cams," by John Mott Coffey, The Commercial Dispatch.
Legislation against cameras that catch red-light runners has gained widespread support in the Mississippi House and Senate. People complain the traffic cameras are government surveillance gone overboard and are being used to generate more money for cities and counties.
"We've had an enormous amount of public outcry," said Senate Highways and Transportation Chairman Tom King, R-Petal. "A lot of people feel like the cameras have been misused and abused."
The Senate this week will take up a House-passed bill that King's committee tightened up last week with language drafted by Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus. Brown said he's gotten bombarded with requests from constituents to prohibit local governments from using the red-light cameras.
"We've had a lot of calls about that. We've gotten a lot of grief over them," he said.
The Senate's version of House Bill 1568 would ban cities and counties from using cameras to record motorists as they're running red lights and fine them based on the photographed evidence of their car license plates. The House-passed bill -- which got a 117-3 vote two weeks ago -- just prohibited traffic tickets being issued based on the camera-photographed evidence. The Senate Highways and Transportation Committee on Wednesday adopted Brown's proposal to enact an absolute ban on the traffic cameras. It would give cities that already have them -- Columbus and Jackson being among them -- until October to take them down.
The Columbus City Council authorized the installation of the city's first traffic camera last year to catch red-light runners. It was placed at the intersection of 14th Street and Waterworks Road. Two cameras capture both the red light and the violator's license plate in the same photo to prove a violation occurred. Drivers cited for running red lights receive a ticket in the mail with instructions on how to pay the fine. The money can be paid online or through the mail.
The traffic cameras -- described by lawmakers as "the ultimate in big brother" and "big brother on a pole" -- are considered an invasion of privacy and an extreme example of government spying to catch people violating the law. Local governments are being enticed to buy them by companies that sell them so they can make more money from traffic fines, Brown said.
"All it is is a money grab," he said. However, supporters of the surveillance cameras say statistics prove they deter people from running red lights -- thereby reducing auto accidents and saving lives.
"That's what the cameras are about -- public safety," said House Transportation Chairman Warner McBride, D-Courtland. The Federal Highway Administration cites statistics showing red-light violations and crashes were reduced in cities after installing traffic cameras. For example, in Oxnard, Calif., intersection collisions declined by 32 percent.
"The red-light camera can be an effective and reliable tool to help reduce the number of red-light-running violations and associated crashes," states a FHA report. However, Brown and King said they've seen no persuasive proof that posting cameras with warning signs make more people stop at red lights.
"From everything we've seen, there's no concrete evidence that it has anything to do with traffic safety," Brown said. At least 18 states have laws allowing red-light cameras, but about six states have banned or severely restricted their use, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
2 March 2009, Austin, Texas: "Police, citizens clash over cameras," by Avi Selk, The Daily Texan.
Three of the four Austin residents who spoke against a proposed police surveillance program at a City Council meeting in February compared the plan to "1984," the science fiction novel about a society under constant surveillance. One critic, Vickie Karp, said the program "equates to destroying freedom in order to save it." The controversy over the surveillance cameras has been simmering at council meetings, police forums, neighborhood meetings and behind closed doors for more than a year. The issue may soon come to a boil as a federal spending bill that would fund the program moves through Congress this week.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, the program's main advocate, has been meeting for months with residents and groups that either support or oppose the program, even as his staff begins to design it. Lori Renteria, crime and safety chair of the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Planning Team, has been pushing Acevedo for cameras in her neighborhood and citywide. She said temporary surveillance cameras pushed drug dealers out of her neighborhood 20 years ago. Now the crime is back, with dealers in lawn chairs at the bus stops and addicts and prostitutes all over the neighborhood park. She said police cameras need to come back, too.
"If the neighborhoods aren't going to work with the cops, the cops are going to start jacking up innocent people because they don't know who the bad guys are," Renteria said. Acevedo has also been trying to assuage critics of the program such as Debbie Russell, the president of the American Civil Liberty Union's Central Texas chapter.
"He's tried to assure me one-on-one, but he can't assure me because he doesn't know what he's buying yet," Russell said. Russell said she worried that once in place, the program would keep growing until it monitored the entire city. "[Cameras] did nothing to curb crime at all [in London], and every square inch of that city is covered with cameras," she said.
Acevedo and his staff have been vague about the intended scope of the surveillance program, saying it is too early to speculate. Expecting an initial $350,000 in funding this year, police want to install cameras downtown and in crime hot spots around the city. Acevedo did not rule out a widespread and permanent surveillance system if more funding comes through and called some privacy arguments against surveillance "disingenuous."
"The privacy guys need to worry about the private sector, which has cameras everywhere you go, with no regulation," he said. "The police are subject to oversight." The cameras would be plainly visible and marked by signs, said Acevedo, and the images they capture would only be kept for several days, unless they are relevant to an investigation. However, Acevedo said surveillance videos might also be used to train officers or detect medical emergencies, and he would consider using volunteers to monitor the images if the program grew too large for paid officers to do it. Video-analysis software might also monitor cameras pointed at individual ATMs and bank doors, said Commander Troy Gay, who is in charge of implementing the program.
Bill Spelman, a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs who worked on a police surveillance program in Brazil, said any program has to be balanced and focused to be effective.
"The big deal is you need to pay someone to watch [the cameras]," he said. "Then you need a certain number of cameras working, otherwise it's a drain on your resources." Spelman, who is running for City Council this year, also expected local controversy to follow the program as it moves forward, pointing to a heated public debate over traffic light cameras several years ago. "The fact that was such a cause celebre suggests there may be considerable public concern about surveillance cameras," he said.
14 May 2009, England: "Gypsies trash 5 million Pounds Sterling police helicopter: A group of gipsies wrecked a 5 million police helicopter to stop officers keeping them under surveillance," by Ben Leach, The Telegraph.
The gang used axes to smash five windows -- causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to the only police helicopter in the county. The vandalism followed weeks of aerial surveillance on a travellers' site where stolen cars and goods are believed to be being kept. The incident happened at around 10pm after the gipsies climbed a 4ft wall surrounding the police force's helipad at Fairoaks airport, near Woking. They threatened staff in the operations room before trashing the aircraft, which is expected to be sidelined for another two weeks while repairs are made. As the helicopter is the only one owned by Surrey Police neighbouring forces are having to provide air cover during police operations in the county. Detectives were apparently ready to raid the gipsies' site on the back of evidence filmed from the air, according to The Sun newspaper. A Surrey Police spokesman said the identity of the vandals was "unknown". He said: "The incident is part of an ongoing investigation and security measures are being reviewed as part of this. "We are working with a maintenance contractor to ensure the aircraft is back on line as soon as possible."
18 May 2009, Loughton, England: "Pupils walk out of lessons in protest against Big Brother cameras," The Guardian.
Pupils walked out of classrooms in protest against Big Brother-styled CCTV cameras recording their lessons. They were so angry with the installation of the equipment at Davenant Foundation School in Chester Road, Loughton, they refused to return until they received assurances it had been turned off. It meant they missed three weeks of studies and led to the drafting of a petition signed by about 150 of their peers. And when they did return to the classroom they all wore masks to continue their protest. The school, an accredited teacher training centre, said the equipment has been installed in two classrooms to capture footage showing examples of best practice in the profession, and would not be used without pupils' knowledge. The issue has now been reported to UK privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (IOC), which is due to clarify the guidelines by the end of the month.
A father, whose son took part in the walk-out, said the school was wrong not to consult parents about the use of technology which "threatened our children's civil liberties". He said: "There is a sphere-like camera at the front and two more cameras at the back. My son said he found it quite intimidating."
The school, a mixed comprehensive which takes pupils from across Essex and east London, has previously drawn criticism from parents for introducing a finger-scan recognition scheme in its canteen to allow pupils to buy lunch. But headteacher Chris Seward says the new technology would only serve to drive up standards at the school, which is consistently one of the best performers in the county.
He said: "There was a small group of sixth-form students who protested because they felt these cameras would be used to film all their lessons. I also had some written representations from parents and I addressed their concerns in our newsletter. They took it all very seriously and I respect that. But once we spoke to them to explain the cameras would be used for a specific purpose they returned to class. Now we are waiting for the Information Commissioner to approve the guidelines and protocols before we can start using the cameras."
Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing, who has written to the school on behalf of concerned parents, and is due to meet the Information Commissioner to discuss the case, said: "We need to find out if the pupils are happy to be filmed but there are two valid sides to this argument, and I am trying to get to the bottom of it."
26 August 2009, Lancaster, Pennsylvania: "Groups in 'Most Surveilled City' Say 'No Spy Cameras!'" by the Constitution Party and the Independent Political Report.
The Constitution Party has joined a massive effort to stop the country's largest (per capita) "spy cam" program in this city of 55,000. A protest is planned for Saturday, August 29th. The event is gaining national attention as individuals and groups join forces to end an Orwellian surveillance camera program that tracks the movements of ordinary citizens as they move from place to place within the city limits.
"These cameras must come down. Social engineering and surveillance cannot be allowed to continue. What happens in one American city will surely spread, like a cancer to other cities unless we, the people, demand an end to it. This is a grave infringement on Americans' 4th Amendment rights", said Constitution Party National Committee Chairman Jim Clymer who will speak at the rally and march Saturday at 2:30 pm in Lancaster Square.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons and papers shall not be violated" means what it says, added Clymer who noted "The Founding Fathers were clear that warrantless intrusions such as the network of Lancaster's city-wide cameras have no place in a free society".
Clymer will join Citizens Against Public Surveillance (CAPS), RepublicMedia and a host of others committed to protecting Constitutional liberties in protesting the public-private partnership between Bosch, a global surveillance product manufacturer and the city of Lancaster.
RepublicMedia's Sam Ettaro who has been exposing under-reported issues with the network of surveillance cameras in Lancaster wrote: "Concerns of conflict of interest include a Bosch employee on the board of the [private group that operates the camera system]... Executive Director of the company, Joe Morales' [who holds a] seat on the [Lancaster] city council". Ettaro has reported that the "Camera Monitor was FIRED after a background check revealed a history of harassment and impersonating public officials".
The on-going protests demand "the full removal of the surveillance system, investigation into conflicts of interest, funding sources, and the use of gathered video surveillance data".
11 January 2010, Coogee, Australia: "Coogee residents bugged by camera," by Nick Moncrieff-Hill, Southern Courier.
The showers and the CCTV camera. Residents and civil libertarians have called for the removal of a surveillance camera in Goldstein Reserve they say could be used to take inappropriate pictures of children and sunbathers. The hi-tech closed-circuit television camera capable of zooming to capture moving images was installed in the Coogee park by Randwick Council in November as part of a strategy to curb alcohol-related violence. However, the council has come under fire because the camera is positioned 10 meters from the public showers next to the central steps leading to Coogee beach.
One Coogee woman, who declined to be named, said the camera was too close to the shower where adults and children bathe.
“If anyone else stood there filming children showering unclothed they would be arrested,” she said. “These cameras should be removed immediately.”
NSW Council for Civil Liberties secretary Stephen Blanks said the risk of the camera being used to gather inappropriate images of people sunbaking and bathing was “too high”.
“There is a real concern that images from these cameras could find their way onto the internet,” Mr Blanks said. “The council should remove this camera and all other cameras that are not absolutely necessary for safety purposes.”
However, visitors to Coogee last week, aware of the alcohol-related issues of the area, said the advantages of the surveillance outweighed their concerns. Coogee mother-of-two Katina White, 42, said although she felt the cameras were an invasion of her privacy, their job of reducing violent crime in the area was more important.
A Randwick Council spokeswoman said extensive community consultation had been conducted before the cameras were installed in crime hotspots identified by Eastern Beaches police. The installation conformed with a strict code of practice that could be viewed on the council website, the council spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman was also quick to point out there was no live monitoring of the images captured, which were kept for 30 days unless subject to police or court action.
10 March 2010, High Wycombe, England. "Council could prosecute over anti-CCTV stickers in High Wycombe," by Oliver Evans, This is London.
Council chiefs said ‘big brother’ campaigners who leave anti-CCTV stickers on camera poles could be prosecuted. Wycombe District Council commented after the Big Brother Watch group published a photograph of one of its stickers on a pole in Frogmoor. It shows a cameras with a ‘W’ across it. The sticker has now been removed.
Spokesman Leanne Watson said: “Our street cleansing teams operate daily from 8am – 6pm and endeavour to clean up any incidences of graffiti or vandalism brought to our attention and where appropriate, would consider prosecuting anyone who defaces council-owned property. We would strongly urge anyone who witnesses incidents of graffiti on public land, to contact the public safety team on 01494 421 404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Yet the group – which says it has sent out 10,000 of the stickers - says it is highlighting an issue of public concern.
Campaigns director Dylan Sharpe said: “If the council wants to come at us then we are ready. It would be a statement about how liberal and interested in peoples’ privacy Wycombe council is if it comes after us for a sticker on what is in essence a very authoritarian monument.” He said CCTV is "yet another arm of state surveillance" and is not an effective weapon against crime.
But Colin Baker, chairman of a lay panel that examines the town’s CCTV, branded the stickers ‘rather silly’. The former Dr Who star and High Wycombe resident said: “It is a shame they need to enter into debate rather than putting stickers on things.
“I would love to know what it is they are worried about being seen doing.” He said: “I tend to be of the opinion of why would you care if someone is watching you if you are not doing anything that is wrong?”
The Bucks Free Press today reports that eight more cameras have been approved for the town, for the area around the new Sainsbury’s in Oxford Road [...].
The issue of CCTV cameras has proved controversial. A consultation on how the council should spend its cash next year found most wanted a cut in CCTV. But a month before the results were published the authority approved a £252,000 upgrade of systems. It said control room equipment is ‘now obsolete and so could not be maintained’.
4 April 2010, Columbia, Missouri: "Prop. 1 divides Columbia: The proposition would allow the police chief to install cameras downtown," written by Wes Duplantier and published by The Maneater.
Peg Miller and Eleanor Wickersham of Keep Columbia Free distribute the group's signs to audience members at a screen of '1984' on Friday. The group opposes Proposition 1 and says installing surveillance cameras downtown would be an invasion of privacy. Privacy advocates spent the start of the weekend doing a final protest against a measure to install cameras in the downtown area, and Columbia voters go to the polls today to decide its fate. Members of Keep Columbia Free screened the film "1984" and distributed newly printed yard signs Friday at The Blue Note to generate opposition to Proposition 1. The group, with members from several local civil liberties organizations, became an official campaign committee March 26.
KCF member Mitchell Richards said the group chose the film to highlight the rise of the "surveillance state" due to increased monitoring of citizens by all levels of government, even beyond Columbia. "We're also seeking to inform the community, even after the election, of the rise of government surveillance of the citizenry," Richards said.
The film, based on George Orwell's novel of the same name, features government "telescreens," which surround citizens of the fictional state of Oceania and bombard them with propaganda messages. The screens are also used to monitor citizens' words and actions.
KCF board member Dan Viets, who is also president of the mid-Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, cited warnings from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis regarding governments invading privacy for societal benefits, such as public safety. "That's exactly what we're dealing with here," Viets said. "We have a danger to liberty, an insidious encroachment, an evolutionary building of a wall of government surveillance."
Several politicians spoke out against the measure before the film began. City Council members from four of Columbia's six wards gave brief remarks against Proposition 1, as did four of the six mayoral candidates. They said installation of the cameras would be an invasion of privacy, a waste of tax dollars and at odds with two previous City Council votes against the measure.
Mayoral candidate Sean O'Day came to the stage wearing a white theater mask to disguise himself from people conducting surveillance and suggested governments might one day observe citizens in their homes. He said the cameras would only benefit a small number of business owners. "These cameras are a handout to a limited number of businesses," O'Day said. "We cannot have these on our streets."
According to previous Maneater articles, Columbia resident Karen Taylor began the push to install cameras downtown. Taylor formed Keep Columbia Safe and began campaigning for the cameras after her son, Adam Taylor, was attacked in the Tenth and Cherry streets parking garage in June. A security camera installed in the parking garage captured the assault and Columbia police used the footage to identify the seven assailants.
The Columbia Police Officers Association endorsed Proposition 1 in February, saying more cameras could help prevent and solve more crimes. "It is clear that our community insists on law enforcement that is effective and thus equipped with the tools and technologies necessary to combat crime and to provide a safe working and living environment," the CPOA said in a February statement endorsing a "yes" vote on the proposition. Proposition 1's other supporters include the Special Business District and Columbia Professional Fire Fighters.
On Thursday, Democracy for Missouri, a statewide progressive group, signaled its opposition to Proposition 1 as well. Democracy for Missouri Secretary Rebecca Schedler said installing cameras would give the impression downtown is unsafe. "You don't want your whole town covered in cameras," Schedler said. "It would make me feel like I was doing something dishonest."
The Friday showing followed another KCF protest along Broadway. The group demonstrated with signs and members brought cameras to conduct "mock surveillance."
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org