An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Cameras in Our Lives

Is there anyone else who isn't quite sure what to think about Mayor Williams' eagerness to use video cameras widely to stop crime, and the growing number of cameras in public places around the country?

"I think they can be used much more widely over more hours and certainly could be used, for example, in many of our neighborhood areas, our parks, our commercial districts [and] our recreation centers," Mr. Williams said during his weekly press briefing.

Stopping crime and catching criminals is good, who would argue with that, but what about basic privacy or anonymity in public places? Do you really want the government watching and tracking you when you are out and about? One cannot help but be more concerned these days, not just because of the proliferation of cameras, but with all of the new technology that makes the cameras useful. These days we have advanced facial pattern recognition software that enables computers to identify you, programs that can monitor you for "suspicious" activities, and an incredibly advanced capacity to analyze, save, and combine all of this data with that in other databases. Where are we going with this?