The purpose of this study is to expand the boundaries of our knowledge by exploring some relevant and factual information relating to the analysis of Public Video Surveillance. The swift apprehension of terrorists in the 2005 London subway bombing clearly showed the benefits of public video surveillance, but concerns linger about legal issues-mostly privacy-related-surrounding the use of cameras in public places. Right now, there are not a lot of regulations about how video surveillance can and cannot be used in public places. According to experts, that's good and bad. On one hand, the use of video technology for public safety is not restricted, which most agree is a good thing (www.aclu.org). On the other hand, there is wide variation among policies that govern the storage and use of that video: Is the taking of the video audited? How long is it stored? Who and under what conditions may someone access video? These questions raise legitimate concerns about privacy, and can lead to controversy.
Public Video Surveillance
The use of CCTV is "greatly unregulated." Unless you're being tracked, racially profiled or your First Amendment rights are being interfered with by those cameras, there are "no privacy expectations from a Constitutional perspective. In general, the collection of video is not problematic; it's the policies that govern access and use of the video after the fact where things can get sticky. An extreme example occurred in London, when a man was seen on public surveillance video trying to commit suicide. The police saved him, but then the video of the man trying to commit suicide got into the hands of a television station and was aired. The man successfully sued for violation of privacy rights (www.constitutionproject.org).
How should cities avoid situations like this? It's critical to have written guidelines that govern the operation of their system. These are things integrators working with municipalities can point to, possibly speeding along a public debate on the use of surveillance, and they are guidelines that should be helpful for integrators trying to educate themselves on the issue. In addition to written guidelines, there are three other "must-dos": there must be a clearly articulated law enforcement purpose for the surveillance; a cost-benefit analysis of implementing or expanding a surveillance system; and an open process that involves the public in decision-making, even if a system will be subsidized by the federal government (www.cnn.com).