Lawmakers debate increasing video surveillance in U.S.

Apr 21, 2013
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Lawmakers debate increasing video surveillance in U.S.

Authorities are debating whether or not video surveillance should be increased in the United States due to their importance in uncovering the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings. Lawmakers are in talks about the importance of increasing surveillance and how CCTV (close-circuit television) cameras will be able to increase security and protect citizens as well as help authorities track down suspects.

Many lawmakers believed that if there are more security cameras installed in cities, it would help speed up the process of identifying suspects and catching them before they get very far. Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, states that they had recently increased surveillance in New York's midtown and downtown areas due to the tragic events of the Boston bombings. He says,

"The Boston bombing is a terrible reminder of why we've made these investments---including camera technology that could help us deter an attack, or investgate and apprehend those involved. [The added video surveillance can] alert police to abnormalities it detects on the street, such as an abandoned package that is left on a corner."

However, calls for extra video surveillance has left many privacy advocates concerned. They believe that increasing video surveillance can be a potential invasion of privacy for the general public. They also state that since the authorities were able to track down the Boston bombers within only a few days, there really isn't any need for any extra surveillance tools. A lawyer for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Alan Butler, says,

"It's one thing to have private closed-circuit cameras and look at feeds after the fact. It's very different if you're talking about systems of cameras identifying and tracking people over time, all the time. Especially if you couple that with facial recognition and license-plate readers and databases."

Alongside installing more video cameras in cities, Senator Lindsey Graham, Representative of South Carolina, says that drones should also be utilized as they would be able to help track down suspects more quickly. Authorities utilized tons of surveillance footage from nearby stores, restaurants, businesses, and even people snapping pictures with their smartphones. By piecing all of the footage together, they were able to quickly identify the suspects. By installing better security cameras in cities, with facial recognition and other improved technologies, authorities believe that they can keep the public more safe. What are your thoughts on increasing surveillance in cities?

[via The Wall Street Journal]


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