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Cameras and privacy

You have absolutely no right to privacy while you are in a public space. That is a well established precedent, upheld by federal and state courts. Remember what the Fourth Amendment specifies: "...persons, houses, papers, and effects.." (The courts have also extended the right of privacy to your automobile, boat, and airplane, but with fewer limitations on law enforcement relative to the sanctity of that right.)

Anyway you slice it however, you have no right to say "Don't look at me" if you're out in public.

That said, there is at least one case wherein a city was forced to move a camera because it could be panned to watch people in a nearby apartment house....and regularly was!

My heartburn with this idea is first, that increased video surveillance isn't the ultimate solution to crime problems that it is made out to be. Both London and New York City praise their video systems (and they do do a lot of good) while admitting that a lot of crime simply moves to areas that aren't under surveillance. An adjunct to that is that our incredibly weak and impotent criminal justice system awaits the robber caught in the act or caught on camera. Solving THAT problem would do far more to quell crime than these cameras.

My second issue is that while the airwaves are free, the cameras and communications devices aren't. We are in a period of extreme economic austerity, but all Saffo can do is spend, spend, spend.

I'm surprised that none of you picked up on the other angle in the story, the government now competing with private industry for the delivery of data services. That rings more Constitutional alarm bells for me than the cameras do.


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