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Homeland Security wants more surveillance cameras

Bruce Schneier points to an article from EPIC titled “Spotlight on Surveillance’ which analyzes the growing use of surveillance cameras in the U.S. (Some PDF links follow.) Later on I’ll show you a few of these cameras.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has requested more than $2 billion to finance grants to state and local governments for homeland security needs. Some of this money is being used by state and local governments to create networks of surveillance cameras to watch over the public in the streets, shopping centers, at airports and more. However, studies have found that such surveillance systems have little effect on crime, and that it is more effective to place more officers on the streets and improve lighting in high-crime areas. There are significant concerns about citizens’ privacy rights and misuse or abuse of the system. A professor at the University of Nevada at Reno has alleged that the university used a homeland security camera system to surreptitiously watch him after he filed a complaint alleging that the university abused its research animals. Also, British studies have found there is a significant danger of racial discrimination and stereotyping by those monitoring the cameras.

EPIC analyzes the deployment of homeland security cameras in several U.S. cities and also compares the use of cameras in Great Britain. The conclusions are simple: despite the rare case of a surveillance camera actually catching a criminal, they have little effect on crime and are far too easy to abuse.

A few cities and states have even put some of their cameras on the Internet for anyone to look at. For instance, you can view traffic cameras all over the states of Arizona, California, (Yes, you too can watch L.A. traffic cams, just like in 24!) Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawai’i (Honolulu), Idaho, Illinois (Chicago, East St. Louis), Indiana (Northwest), Iowa (Des Moines), Kentucky (Lexington, Louisville), Louisiana, Maine (also Maine Turnpike), Maryland, Massachusetts (Boston, Mass Pike), Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri (Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield), Montana, Nebraska (Lincoln), Nevada (Las Vegas), New Jersey, New York (Hudson Valley, New York City, Thruway), North Carolina, North Dakota (Fargo, Four Bears Bridge), Ohio (also Cincinnati), Oregon, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio), Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. (also Montgomery Co.), Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Wyoming.

Alaska has viewable cameras in their DMV offices.

Only government-run cameras which I found working today are listed. There are many, many more private cameras, and that’s a topic for another day… Feel free to comment if I missed your favorite government-run camera.

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