Restaurants who use surveillance to prevent theft of products and revision of their employees have gained 7% in annual revenue. In large cities such as Washington, DC camera installations began in 2006. The cameras in one Washington DC neighborhood have stopped crimes such as drug dealing in 2 of 10 spots. This not only prevents crime but it also discourages people thinking about committing crimes because they know no matter how hard they try they will most likely be caught on surveillance cameras. But these cameras don’t just stop crimes like drug dealing; they are used to disprove alibis and catch people who simply ran a red light. Even body cameras on police officers have increased accountability of the police and decreased use-of-force incidents by a huge margin. This not only improves the police ability to serve the public but also could have prevented events such as the recent Freddie Gray incident where a man died in police custody because of a spinal injury which occurred whilst in custody.
The main thing opponents of surveillance seem to demonize is the Patriot Act but in fact the Patriot Act has saved many lives. People claim that the Patriot Act allows the government to indiscriminately wiretap and seize peoples records, this is not true because the requires the FBI to get a judge's approval in many situations. One of the most important things that the Patriot Act allows is the wiretapping and surveillance of Lone Wolves who have nebulous ties with terrorist organizations. Before the Patriot Act it was almost impossible to surveil Lone Wolves but now with Patriot Act it is much easier and this is one of the greatest benefits of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act also has many safeguards to prevent abuse such as what I mentioned above, needing a judge's signature when wanting to seize one’s records. Overall I believe that the increasing use of surveillance cameras is helping our society by making the police more accountable for their actions and preventing crime.
People who disagree with my opinion believe that the increase in surveillance would cause a chilling effect on public life, because of the change of behavior because of being constantly watched. One con of surveillance technology is police body cameras and when should police turn them off. For example”,” when an officer is called in and goes into your home will he turn off his camera or will the government gain a way to invade in the one place they shouldn’t be surveilling. Also”,” should police record reluctant witnesses or victims of sexual assault? Also cameras can easily be abused by police officers, there was a particular incident in 1997 when an officer used cameras near a nightclub whose patron are mostly homosexual. The officer then searched for married men and began blackmailing them because of their sexual orientation. There have been incidents where officers used the cameras for voyeurism. The cameras in which the most data is retrieved are neighborhood cameras. This brings up the problem “mission creep” which is where the government uses “crime preventing” cameras to collect data on law abiding citizens for possible future use. Although these points are valid I feel that these problems mentioned above are a small price to pay for safety. The reason for this is that surveillance programs included in the Patriot Act have thwarted over 50 terrorist attacks.
Even though surveillance brings great boons of more proficient restaurants and less crime it also brings the threat of abuse and corruption. An increase of revenue by 7% is a significant increase but the employees under such surveillance should feel comfortable knowing that their boss is always watching them at work. Also 2/10 surveilled drug corners shut down is a big improvement. The fact that surveillance programs have thwarted over 50 terrorist attacks is huge, that is allot of lives saved by supposedly losing something ethereal. The Patriot Act has helped handily as well its has stopped many domestic terrorist attacks that would not have been stopped otherwise. The Patriot Act has increased the FBI’s terror fighting ability through circumventing the grand jury and allowing much quicker wiretaps and general surveillance. Overall I believe that surveillance is very good for our country and our safety.
|Use of force incidents, LA Times|
Conclusion, May 28, 2015:
Although some Americans believe that loss of privacy through programs like Big Brother is the government's way of gaining power over citizens it actually protects us from terrorist attacks and violent crimes and petty crimes. This is the thesis I stated above this is still what I believe in. Though comments and arguments brought to me have made my resolve waver such as only a 2/10 difference in crime for a moderate stress on our federal and local budgets. Also the argument at how there is no data proving that terrorist attacks are stopped, especially large scale ones. All of these things made me question if losing some of my privacy was worth the almost meager amount of safety it brought. But then I looked at the bigger picture, if 2/10 drug dealer could be stopped that means that the black market for drugs will take a huge monetary hit. Which would decrease its ability to evade police which made me stand by my opinion that it is worth it. These arguments made me question myself and my opinion but it ultimately led me to strengthen my opinion about security and how it is helpful and protecting our society. Also something happened on a street that I walk by frequently a shooting of two unarmed African-American men. The shooting was not taped and I find that if it had been it would of stopped a lot of controversy going on about it. The reason I say this is because we do not know what really happened because both parties could be withholding the truth, and that is one of the best things about surveillance it would end controversy like this or help protect the people from unprovoked shooting from police. I really enjoyed creating this blog because it caused me to think about things I haven’t before such as how much I am being and watched and way I am, and overall it has made me stand behind the local and Federal governments in providing its citizens safety through surveillance.