Does Video Surveillance Threaten Privacy?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 11, 2009

The most pervasive criticism of video surveillance is the risk of destroying privacy -- that video surveillance will become Big Brother, enabling the government to spy on anyone, anywhere.

These concerns continue in the UK with a recent report by the House of Lords criticizing video surveillance's increasing risks to privacy. The Guardian offers an overview of the Report  and lists key criticisms.

Let me open this for a discussion with one thought:

People grossly overestimate the power of video surveillance to track details of an individual across time and places.

This is a comic book capability, found only in movies and vendor marketing brochures, but not feasible in real deployments.  It's simulateonusly beyond todays' even cutting edge technology and, even if it was possible, it would be impossible to broadly roll it out (without spending billions on upgrades, etc.).

In reality, we live in a world of tens of millions of dumb cameras that are isolated into hundreds of thousands of isolated islands. The technology that is available does not perform well at scale and cannot be deployed without a massive and almost complete overhaul of video surveillance as we know it.

It is reasonable for people to be concerned about their privacy but we need to base such concerns on implementable technology that could actually undermine privacy, not science fiction.

[premium_content]

Related Reports on Privacy

How China's Pay By Facial Recognition Works on Apr 02, 2019
Many social media posts have variously celebrated or warned about the growing use of facial recognition for payments in China. An example of one...
Bezos-Funded Deep Sentinel Tested on Mar 28, 2019
Backed by Jeff Bezos, the Silicon Valley startup, Deep Sentinel, has declared: No One Does Home Security Like We Do Our Surveillance Team has...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
City Physical Security Manager Interview on Mar 14, 2019
This physical security pro is the Physical Security Manager for the City of Calgary. He is a criminologist by training with an ASIS CPP credential....
Church Technology Director Security Interview on Mar 07, 2019
With 40+ years of experience in IT from a wide array of verticals, including US and foreign military, and large corporate and industrial settings,...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every job you can do in the...
Austria’s First GDPR Fine Is For Video Surveillance on Jan 29, 2019
Should EU businesses be concerned if police see a business' surveillance cameras filming public areas? This is what happened with Austria’s first...
UK: Private Video Surveillance Complaints Down Since GDPR on Jan 09, 2019
The arrival of the GDPR on May 25, 2018, brought fears the law would spark a massive increase in privacy complaints about security camera use....
IPVM Best New Products 2019 Opened - 70+ Entrants on Jan 07, 2019
The inaugural IPVM Best New Product Awards has been opened - the industry's first and only program where the awards are not pay-to-play and the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

19 Facial Recognition Providers Profiled on Apr 23, 2019
IPVM interviewed 19 facial recognition providers at ISC West to understand their claimed accuracy, success and positioning. 9 from China, where...
Locking Down Network Connections Guide on Apr 23, 2019
Accidents and inside attacks are risks when network connections are not locked down. Security and video surveillance systems should be protected...
Hikvision Admits USA Sales Falling on Apr 22, 2019
Hikvision, in a new Chinese financial filing, has admitted that its USA sales are now falling. Less than a year after the US government passed a...
Speco Ultra Intensifier Tested on Apr 22, 2019
While ISC West 2019 named Speco's Ultra Intensifier the best new "Video Surveillance Cameras IP", IPVM testing shows the camera suffers from...
Arecont Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 22, 2019
Arecont's net negativity remained the same in IPVM's 2019 integrator study, though integrator's feeling became relatively more neutral compared to...
H.265 Usage Statistics on Apr 19, 2019
H.265 has been available in IP cameras for more than 5 years and, in the past few years, the number of manufacturers supporting this codec has...
ACRE Acquires RS2, Explains Acquisition Strategy on Apr 19, 2019
ACRE continues to buy, now acquiring RS2, just 5 months after buying Open Options. One is a small access control manufacturer from Texas, the...
Access Control Course Spring 2019 - Last Chance on Apr 19, 2019
 Register for the Spring 2019 Access Control Course----Closed IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike...
Riser vs Plenum Cabling Explained on Apr 18, 2019
You could be spending twice as much for cable as you need. The difference between 'plenum' rated cable and 'riser' rated cable is subtle, but the...
Verint Victimized By Ransomware on Apr 18, 2019
Verint, which is best known in the physical security industry for video surveillance but has built a sizeable cybersecurity business as well, was...

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