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

US Army Bans Chinese DJI Drones on Aug 08, 2017
The US Army has issued a ban on Chinese-made DJI drones. A US Army memo obtained by sUAS News references a classified document from the Army...
SimpliSafe Camera Tested on Mar 07, 2017
SimpliSafe is one of the most controversial companies in the industry, as they have become the symbol of the DIY threat to traditional alarm...
Hikvision Ezviz Mini 360 Plus - $80 Autotracking Camera Tested on Feb 21, 2017
Autotracking, integrated IR, local storage, full HD, cloud access: $80. That is the claim of Hikvision EZVIZ's new Mini 360 Plus. But for this...
Axis Partner Elder Care Video Analytics (Smartervision) on Dec 07, 2016
Can video analytics be used to improve the care of the elderly? Axis and a video analytics startup, Smartervision, are working together to do so....
Silicon Valley Startup Density Launches People Counting As A Service on Aug 09, 2016
A Silicon Valley startup says their people counting sensor is so accurate it's free, just pay for the data. They recently raised $4M from a top VC...
Americans Vastly Underestimate Being Recorded on CCTV on May 24, 2016
Americans vastly underestimate how often they are recorded on CCTV, by a factor of ~10x, based on a Google Consumer Survey study that IPVM recently...
Man Fights Crime With 21 Hikvision Cameras on Apr 08, 2016
Hero or lunatic? One man has taken the fight against crime into his own hands. His special power is CCTV and he is not afraid to use it. But many...
Video Surveillance Commissioning / Install Checklist on Feb 08, 2016
This 60+ point checklist helps end users, integrators and consultants verify that video surveillance installation is complete. It covers the...
Hikvision and the China Communist Party on Jan 12, 2016
Just days after getting $3 billion financing from the Chinese government, Hikvision celebrated opening their own Communist Party company committee....
Hospital Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 28, 2015
This 16-page guide explains the key uses, design factors, and players in the Hospital Surveillance market.   A global group of 50 integrators and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon CEO Attacks Asian Companies Cyber Insecurity on Aug 18, 2017
Avigilon CEO is taking aim at their Asian competitors. And he is going directly after these company's cyber security issues. In this note, we...
Sony Next Gen HD Dome Camera Tested (SNC-EM642R) on Aug 18, 2017
Sony has released their latest generation, claiming improved WDR and low light, increased IR range, and more. We tested the SNC-EM642R outdoor IR...
IP Networking Course September 2017 on Aug 17, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Knightscope Raises $10 Million With $3,320 Average Per Investor on Aug 17, 2017
Congrats to Knightscope. And condolences to their legion of little investors. Knightscope has disclosed they have raised $10+ million from their...
Axis and Arecont Legal Conflict Over Multi-Imager Cameras on Aug 17, 2017
Arecont threatened Axis. Axis has responded by moving to invalidate an Arecont patent. It is an important contest. Multi-imagers are Arecont's...
Directory Of Consumer Security Cameras on Aug 16, 2017
The consumer camera segment continues to grow, with new startups and models from existing players released seemingly every month. In this report we...
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 6a Network Cable Usage Statistics on Aug 16, 2017
Cat 5e? Cat 6? Cat 6a? What do integrators use in practice, today? 140+ integrators told IPVM. Here are the results: For those who want to...
Hikvision Responds To Cracked Security Codes on Aug 15, 2017
Hikvision has responded to IPVM's report on Hikvision's security code being cracked, both with a 2 page update to dealers and communication...
Stolen Video NVR / DVR Statistics on Aug 15, 2017
"But what happens if someone steals my recorder?" Anyone who has done more than a handful of jobs has probably heard this question several times....
Hikvision Europe Cutting Out Unauthorized End User Sales on Aug 15, 2017
The days of anyone buying Hikvision from anywhere off the Internet are numbered, at least in Europe, if Hikvision's plan comes to fruition. In...

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