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Metro Installing Surveillance Cameras

Metro officials are preparing to install video cameras on an unspecified number of rail cars, the first step in what could become a systemwide surveillance network that officials say will help them better manage crowds and investigate criminal activity. (read more about this here)

By Jodi Westrick  |  September 29, 2009; 5:56 PM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Like with DC PD police cameras, if these are in public locations looking at what any police officer would see if they were standing on teh corner or in a train car, this is fine but if it means that the cameras are hidden or can look into places that an ordinary officer would not be able to then they shouldn't be used.

The best way to make sure that we aren't paying for the police to peep in on people is to make the displays public. The traffic cameras installed at intersections around DC shoot a stream of video to a DC website so anyone can go and see what is being filmed. The same thing needs to happen with police and Metro cameras. This will keep things open and transparent to the people (DC Metropolitan residents) who are paying for it and being watched.

Posted by: pezdrake | September 30, 2009 10:18 AM

No technology, no matter how sophisticated, trumps human surveillance. Frankly, I think a few more good sets of eyes would go a long way. First of all, Metro needs to do a better job of dealing with the delinquents who frequent the system with no regard for anyone else. Such an effort requires security. Last night my girlfriend was asked to "move so i can ride down the escalator" and almost got run over by a couple of 13-yr old thugs who touted the fact that they liked to " with white people." After telling one of the kids that he needed to cool it, I was "threatened." Macro-level security is fundamental, but there has to be just as much done to curb this incivility that so many people experience on daily basis.

Posted by: ih82 | September 30, 2009 1:55 PM

Big Brother is Watching You...

Posted by: jerkhoff | September 30, 2009 7:14 PM

Commercially available image recognition technology has just recently become good enough to consistently recognize license plates, and we are now seeing license plate scanners being deployed by city governments around the world: to enforce parking time limits, to automatically find and boot cars with overdue parking tickets, to enforce "tolls" for cars entering crowded city centers, and even, in some cases, as a "security" measure to track who is entering a town.

So, the era is fast approaching when we will lose all "locational privacy" when driving a car: where and when we went will be a matter of government record, available without warrant to any police officer (and anyone who can bribe/befriend a police employee). But that's OK, because "driving is a privilege", "we've always had license plates", yada, yada. Fine.

Now, step forward a decade. Around that time, I expect that computerized facial recognition is going to get pretty reliable. Couple facial recognition with ubiquitous video surveillance, and you now have a loss of positional privacy even if you're just walking around town. When and where you've been will be a matter of record that the police (and others) can access anytime without a warrant. Are you OK with all of your daily movements becoming part of your "permanent record"?

These are the kinds of issues we need to start thinking about now, and establishing appropriate legal safeguards for *now*. Otherwise, these systems will just one day appear and be a "done deal", and we'll never get back to the levels of privacy we enjoyed in years past.

[P.S: thanks to cell phones, your location is already being continuously tracked by the cell company, which can -- and does -- provide that information to third-parties without a warrant. But at least you can turn your cell phone off]

Posted by: DupontJay | September 30, 2009 9:14 PM

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