Prominent Blowhard Attacks Video Surveillance

By: John Honovich, Published on Mar 02, 2010

Bruce Schneier's biases against surveillance cameras are clear, despite his lack of evidence. Schneier is an important public figure as he is one of the world's most cited people in security. While an undisputed scholar in cryptography, his historical rants against surveillance show little thought and analysis.

His most recent screed, featured on CNN, attacks surveillance cameras citing the Hamas assassination in Dubai. He boldly claims that the assasins, "make no effort to hide themselves from the cameras, sometimes seeming to stare directly into them. They obviously don't care that they're being recorded, and -- in fact -- the cameras didn't prevent the assassination, nor as far as we know have they helped as yet in identifying the killers."

First, faulting surveillance cameras to stop assassins is insane. Such people are willing to die and therefore will not be deterred by fear of future capture or having their picture taken. Only a small percentage of criminals have no fear of consequences. They are the most resistant to all forms of counter-measures but also the least common.

Secondly, those cameras in the hotel do not exist to stop assassins. Hotels use cameras for much more basic operational reasons such as checking on small disturbances, prostitution, drugs, employee misbehavior, etc. I am sure that hotel never designed the system to stop assassins nor would almost any hotel in the world. 

Third, the cameras provide indisputable evidence of the faces and appearances of the assassins which is important not only in tracking suspects but in eliminating doubt during trial.

Schneier goes on to argue that "the data are clear: CCTV cameras have minimal value in the fight against crime." To the contrary, as we investigated in our own more comprehensive analysis of studies, CCTV has proven value in public facilities for certain clearly defined roles. Secondly, the studies we examined were an average of 10 years old, reflecting far less powerful (and more expensive) technology than is available today.

Schneier dismisses the importance of private sector CCTV use: "Cameras aren't completely ineffective, of course ... sometimes it is cost-effective for a store to install cameras to catch shoplifters or a casino to install cameras to detect cheaters. But these are instances where there is a specific risk at a specific location." What Schneier misses is that the overwhelming majority of cameras are used by private sector organizations trying to deter, detect or solve specific incidents, including ironically the hotel in question in Dubai.

Thankfully the article received many negative comments from readers, reflecting a broader community that largely understands Schneier's criticisms are over the top.

1 report cite this report:

Is Terrorism not worth worrying about? on May 09, 2010
After the recent Times Square attempt, the number of public critiques against video surveillance and other anti-terrorist measures has increased....
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
IPVM Opens 12,000 Sqft Testing Facility on Dec 16, 2019
IPVM is proud to announce the opening of the world's first video surveillance testing facility that will allow us to significantly expand our...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
China Subway Facial Recognition System Examined on Jun 24, 2019
A China city of 6+ million people has installed facial recognition-enabled gates in subways, allowing commuters to enter stations by simply showing...
China Jaywalking Facial Recognition Guide on May 27, 2019
News reports touting the PRC's AI prowess often showcase facial recognition cameras being used to automatically catch and fine jaywalkers. In...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
Hikvision AI Problems Criticized By Chinese Publication on Apr 09, 2019
Hikvision's facial recognition works poorly, causes delays and worsens learning, according to a new investigation by one of China's leading...
IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

USA's Feevr Thermal Temperature System Examined on Mar 31, 2020
This US company has burst on to the scene, brashly naming itself 'feevr' and branding itself as a "COVID 19 - AI BASED NON CONTACT THERMAL...
JCI Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 31, 2020
JCI has made coronavirus cuts, the company told employees in an email that IPVM has reviewed. Inside this note, we examine the cuts made, the...
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door operators to fight the spread of coronavirus. This delivers...
Video Surveillance Business 101 on Mar 30, 2020
This report explains the fundamental elements of the video surveillance business for those new to the industry. This is part of our Video...
FDA Gives Guidance on 'Coronavirus' Thermal Fever Detection Systems on Mar 30, 2020
The US FDA has given IPVM guidance on the use of thermal fever detection systems being marketed for coronavirus, as an explosion of such devices...
Worsen: Integrators Hit Even Harder By Coronavirus on Mar 30, 2020
Integrator's problems have worsened over the past 2 weeks, according to new IPVM survey results. Inside this report, we share statistics and...
Pivot3 Mass Layoffs on Mar 27, 2020
Pivot3 has conducted mass layoffs, the culmination of grand hopes, a quarter of a billion dollars in VC funding, and multiple failures to gain...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
UPDATE: NBC News Report Cites IPVM On Coronavirus 'Fever Detection' Cameras Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...