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.

Related Reports on Privacy

Belgium Bans Private Facial Surveillance on Jul 06, 2018
Belgium has effectively banned the use of facial recognition and other biometrics-based video analytics in surveillance cameras for private,...
GDPR For Access Control Guide on Jul 03, 2018
Electronic access control is common in businesses plus organizations are increasingly considering biometrics for access control. With GDPR coming...
GDPR / ICO Complaint Filed Against IFSEC Show Facial Recognition on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM has filed a complaint against IFSEC’s parent company UBM based on our concern that the conference violates core GDPR principles on...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...
Dahua Products Are Not GDPR Compliant, No Products Can Be on May 29, 2018
Dahua products are neither GDPR-compliant nor certified, contrary to their marketing. The reason is that no products can be, as the EU does not...
Amazon's "Dangerous New Face Recognition Technology" Says ACLU on May 23, 2018
The ACLU has caused a stir, with a new report Amazon Teams Up With Law Enforcement to Deploy Dangerous New Face Recognition Technology,...
Genetec Clearance Face Detection / Redaction Test on May 14, 2018
Privacy regulations such as GDPR (EU Public Privacy), HIPAA (US Medical Privacy), and FERPA (US Student Privacy) are driving video surveillance...
Global Real-Time Video Surveillance - EarthNow on Apr 20, 2018
A new company, EarthNow, with backing from Bill Gates, Airbus and more, is claiming that: Users will be able to see places on Earth with a delay...
GDPR For Video Surveillance Guide on Apr 12, 2018
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25, but there is much confusion and no clear guidelines on...
VMS New Developments Spring 2018 (Avigilon, Exacqvision, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix) on Apr 04, 2018
What's new with VMS software? In this report, we examine new features and releases for Spring 2018 to track different areas of potential...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 13, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer 2018 This...
US Tariffs Hit China Video Surveillance on Jul 13, 2018
Chinese video surveillance products avoided tariffs for the first two rounds. Now, in the third round, many video surveillance products will be...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...
Hikvision Fights Ban - Claims 'Red Scare', Hires 14 Term Ex-Congressman on Jul 11, 2018
Hikvision is fighting back against the House Bill Ban of their products. Hikvision has hired one of the biggest lobbying firms, led by a 14 term...
Arecont Acquisition By Costar on Jul 11, 2018
Arecont Vision acquisition by Costar Technologies has been approved by the court, concluding the bankruptcy process triggered by Arecont's...
Amazon Ring Partners With Rapid Response For $10 Monitoring on Jul 10, 2018
Amazon's Ring alarm system is using Rapid Response for monitoring, IPVM has confirmed in our testing. Amazon is arguably the most feared new...
SIA Lobbyists Working On House Bill Ban of Dahua and Hikvision on Jul 10, 2018
While SIA is most known for ISC West, SIA maintains the industry's most significant lobbying organization to influence US government action. Last...
Eastern and SavvyTech Merge, Form ENS, Targets ADI on Jul 09, 2018
ADI, ENS is coming for you. Or, at least, they hope. Two US distributors, NY based EasternCCTV and California based SavvyTech have merged, to...

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