I am totally against the Surveillance State. The government shouldn't have access to our gadgets, be able to track us, or monitor public spaces in search of possible wrongdoing. The country shouldn't be a POW camp. To be constantly "watched" by armed guards, in public or private, is undesirable to say the least.
But I'm not opposed to the Surveillance Society, in which individuals use cameras and recording devices for the protection of themselves and their property..
Recent events have impressed upon me the value of private surveillance:.
- I recently saw most of 30 For 30's "Fantastic Lies," about the 2006 Duke Lacrosse rape case. Cellphone records and at least one surveillance camera (at an ATM) provided the alibis that exonerated the suspects.
The footage not only established innocence in each case, it made liars of the accusers.
This makes me wonder, why does anyone try to get away with doing bad stuff anymore? Between surveillance cameras (which may visible or hidden) and the cellphones of others, you never know if you're being watched. You never know who may produce recorded evidence catching one in a lie or committing a crime.
I've wondered if increased video surveillance has helped keep crime rates down. After crime fell dramatically in the 1990's, several theories were offered: liberalized gun laws like concealed carry deterred criminals who didn't know if potential victims were packing heat; higher prison rates kept more criminals out of society, legalized abortion kept criminals from being born, lead emission were drastically reduced..
Surveillance cameras were not as ubiquitous in the 1990's as they are now. Cellphones were rare and didn't have cameras. So I doubt they contributed much to the drop in crime. But I do wonder if they have helped keep crime rates low. Why commit a crime when there's a good chance you might be caught on video?
And I wonder if the Surveillance Society is creating better manners. If you're angry at the waiter, the realization that throwing a tantrum might be caught on video and spread through the Internet may be an incentive to keep a cool head.
Your home and your own property should be as private as you want them to be. That expectation disappears when you venture out in public. So it is in your best interest to not only stay away from crime, but to be decent, kind, and civil.
Because you'll never know who's watching, or who will eventually watch.