Do Camera Phones Excuse Government Surveillance?

By: John Honovich, Published on Mar 15, 2011

While public surveillance systems increase around the world, concerns remain about their misuse and potential privacy violations. However, US privacy concerns are generally fairly low, especially compared to the UK. To that end, a recent US City Police Captain's justification of why his surveillance system does not violate privacy is especially interesting. His logic: "If there's a fight happening on the street, it's on YouTube 30 minutes later. What's the difference [of public surveillance]?" This raises some fascinating points.

On the one hand, video captured by the public on their phones is clearly becoming a major societal factor. We've seen this vividly in a Seattle police filming incident, leaked surveillance video from security guards and argued ourselves of the risk / impact of camera phones. The use of these phone is increasing rapidly with estimates of nearly 400 million of these phone sold in 2013. If we are not already at, we will soon be in a world of ubiqituous personal video cameras. This will change the perception of privacy. If everyone can (or is) recording you anyway what does it matter if the government does so as well?

On the other hand, key differences exist in the government's use of surveillance video:

  • Government cameras are generally always on 24/7/365; Private cameras are almost never on and only turn on after an event has already started when the event is of interest to an individual.
  • Government video recording can be easily and systematically accessed; Even if a private camera captured video of an individual, the likelihood that others would find out about it is low (for every YouTube sensation, millions of videos are never viewed by more than a few people ever)
  • Goverment video feeds can be used to track individuals across large areas; These systems are designed to provide broad coverage and allow operators to track individuals. Unless a person with a camera phone has the time and effort to spy on a person up close doing so is unlikely.

We think it is obvious that significant differences exist between a city's surveillance and individuals using smart phones. However, there is no dout that as 'private surveillance' increases, governments will use this as a rationale to why publicly run surveillance does not infringe on individual's rights.

Final note: The same article cites the City of Orlando spending $1 Million on a public surveillance system that led to 25 total arrests in 2009.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

UK Facewatch GDPR Compliance Questioned on Aug 27, 2019
Even as the GDPR strictly regulates biometrics, a UK company called Facewatch is selling anti-shoplifter facial recognition systems to hundreds of...
Suprema Biometric Mass Leak Examined on Aug 19, 2019
While Suprema is rarely discussed even within the physical security market, the South Korean biometrics manufacturer made global news this past...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Aug 13, 2019
Biometrics are commonly used in phones, but how frequently are they used for access? 150+ integrators told us how often they use biometrics,...
Milestone "GDPR-ready" Certification Claim Critiqued on Aug 12, 2019
Milestone is touting that its latest XProtect VMS is "GDPR-ready" with a 'European Privacy Seal'. However, our investigation raises significant...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Aug 11, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Australia Security Full Show Report on Jul 25, 2019
IPVM went to Australia attending the 3 days of the Australia Security Exhibition: This was held at the ICC Sydney, as shown below: In this...
Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
IFSEC 2019 Show Report on Jun 19, 2019
The UK's largest trade show, IFSEC, is underway and IPVM has been examining what is new and happening at the show. Inside, we cover: Huawei...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed. The project contract was awarded, had its...
OpenALPR Doubles Prices on Jun 06, 2019
There is no 'race to the bottom' in cloud / AI video surveillance. In May, Verkada increased their prices. Now, OpenALPR is doing the same with a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Schmode is Back, Aims To Turn Boulder AI Into Giant on Sep 16, 2019
One of the most influential and controversial executives in the past decade is back. Bryan Schmode ascended and drove the hypergrowth of Avigilon...
Manufacturers Unhappy With Weak ASIS GSX 2019 And 2020 Shift on Sep 16, 2019
Manufacturers were generally unhappy with ASIS GSX, both for weak 2019 booth traffic and a scheduling shift for the 2020 show, according to a new...
How Cobalt Robotics May Disrupt Security on Sep 13, 2019
While security robots have largely become a joke over the last few years, one organization, Cobalt Robotics, has raised $50+ million from top US...
Panasonic 4K Camera Tested (WV-S2570L) on Sep 13, 2019
Panasonic has released their latest generation 4K dome, the WV-S2570L, claiming "Extreme image quality allows evidence to be captured even under...
ASIS GSX 2019 Final Show Report on Sep 12, 2019
IPVM went to Chicago for ASIS GSX 2019, with many exhibitors disappointed about traffic and the exhibitor schedule changing next year. However,...
Installation Course - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 12, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - September 2019 Video Surveillance Install Course. Thursday, September 12th is your last chance to register for the...
Commend ID5 Intercom Tested on Sep 12, 2019
Commend touts the new ID5 intercom as 'timelessly elegant' and the slim body, glass front touchscreen indeed looks better than common, but ugly,...
US State Department: "Chinese Tech Giants" "Tools of the Chinese Communist Party" on Sep 12, 2019
The US State Department has called out "Chinese tech giants" for being "tools of the Chinese Communist Party" in a blunt new speech that makes...
Uniview OEM Directory on Sep 11, 2019
This directory lists 20+ companies that OEM products from Uniview, with a graphic and links to company websites below. It does not cover all...
Yi Home Camera 3 AI Analytics Tested on Sep 10, 2019
Yi Technology is claiming "new AI features" in its $50 Home Camera 3 "eliminates 'false positives' caused by flying insects, small pets, or light...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact