Friday, May 8, 2015

Security or Privacy? Which do you value more?

Surveillance Camera,
In the world there are currently 210,000,000 surveillance cameras in use. Over the past few years the amount of surveillance cameras has increased exceptionally, and in most cases have prevented crime and helped apprehend criminals. But with the use of body cameras increasing questions are being raised like if our privacy is worth our safety? 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.

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.

How body cameras influence police behavior
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.


  1. Hello Tommy V,
    I enjoyed reading your article because you showed me the many benefits of having surveillance. I agree that it is necessary to insure to safety of people. You did a very good job with showing how surveillance has protected people from possible terrorist attacks and has stopped crimes. I found this article regarding not only the protection of people but the protection of nature and parks. I thought that it is interesting how we can use surveillance to not only protect people and citizens, but we can also use it to protect nature. Do you think that there are other benefits of surveillance that do more than just protect people? I enjoyed reading your article because you showed me many benefits that I was unaware of. Good job!

    1. Hello Dr.Ew, I liked the link you shared with me and I did not know that could be used this way. But now that I know this I agree with cameras being used this way especially for keeping a memorial to fallen warriors clean. Also protecting the environment is important. Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

  2. Tommy V, thank you for sharing your opinion on this very important topic. I would encourage you to follow the news regarding the renewal of the Patriot Act, as it is set to expire on June 1. As for surveillance cameras, I would hope we could find examples of their use where the positive impact was greater than 2 in 10. How do communities justify the expense of surveillance programs if cameras are only making a difference in 20% of the areas they are placed?

    1. Hello Mrs.Gerla thank you for the comment. I stand by surveillance in believing that they are worth the cost. If 20% of crime can be reduced in all places their put would help allot to protect our society. Also 20% of drug profits taken away from the black market would be huge. This would then limit gangs and their ability. Like stated in my blog I agree with the patriot act and that it should be renewed because it has greatly helped the FBI fight terror. Once again thank you for the comment.

  3. Great job Tommy V! I enjoyed reading this article and I think you did an excellent job displaying your opinion. You also did a great job of using statistics to strengthen your argument. I would agree with you on this topic because it is proven to prevent crime. Also the fact that it prevents terrorist attacks is great! This is an article that talks about that topic of terrorism. Great work and I like the title too!

  4. Hello Tommy V! I have enjoyed reading your post on this controversial topic, which includes some solid arguments for the value of data-gathering for security purposes. The stat you mention about the number of terrorist attacks prevented by whole-scale collection of phone records of American citizens has generated a lot of controversy over the last few years. In opposition to the Washington Post article you mention, the Jan. 2014 report of the government's own oversight board for Privacy and Civil Liberties states that there is no documented proof that the data collection program made a significant difference in neutralizing any threat or identification of any terrorist or terrorist attack. Indeed, there are articles about the failure of the program to identify the Boston Marathon bombers. If this is true, does the rationale for the program disappear? What do you think of the Board's report? Does it make a difference in your thinking about data collection? Thank you for posting a topic of such current interest! Ms. Riches

    1. Hell Mrs.Riches. I like the how comprehensive you're comment was in evaluating my blog and making me question it. But I have a rebuttal for why surveillance failed to stop the Boston marathon bombings. First of all not all attacks can be stopped and the fact that no attacks close to as severe as 9/11 have happened in the past few years is a good thing. Also the reason that there is no documented proof is because if the government released these statistics it would cause panic because of the amount stopped would show how many times people try to attack and terrorize our country. Also even though surveillance didn't prevent Tsarev they did help catch him, "when the city’s extensive system of surveillance cameras led to identification of four suspects within five days of the attacks".


  5. Tommy V: Hey Tommy V, This article really shocked me because I never actually thought about how much I was being watched by surveillance until I read this. This argument is tough because it can be so easily argued for both sides one for the security and one for the privacy I think that makes it a great topic. If you want to read more on why some people think surveillance is bad you can click this link Nice work!

    (sorry about the link it was not working properly.)

    1. Thank you Basil for there great comment. I have already seen this article and that is what I have based my section against surveillance on. I agree that there are some breaches in privacy but I feel the benefits heavily out weigh the cost of privacy and maintaining surveillance cameras. Thanks again for the comment Basil.

  6. Hi Tommy V.!! I like this topic a lot because it is very easy to relate to in my life. I have heard many people complaining that their privacy is being abducted when really they don't realize how beneficially the surveillance cameras can be to how safe their life actually is, I like your statics a lot because is show people more facts rather than opinions. Great job!


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