Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Eyes of Chicago are on YOU

Mayor Daley of Chicago and Ray Orozco, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, announced that he would like to see CCTV cover the city.

What might come as a surprise, is my support of this plan. However, I have grave concerns over who has access to the system and retention of video.

As of now it appears only 911 dispatch operators have access to the network currently in place. As the system grows to cover the city, my concern is that other divisions will be granted access to the system and abuses will follow without strict legislation defining limits.

My next concern, peeked by a Facebook posting between Dr. Zimmer and Dr. Walker, both of UW-Milwaukee, relates to saved video. Will video of the system be archived or recorded. I am sure there is already in place an option to record video feeds to assist as evidence in court and review for further clues, if need be. However, will all video feeds be recorded? If so how long will the video remain archived?

In addition will the video be made available through Freedom of Information Act requests, it is after all a publicly created 'document' and as Illinois law says, "…it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government […] Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest." (5 ILCS 140/1)

It has been many years since Katz v. United States where the "reasonable expectation" of privacy was born. But it is my opinion that an individual, even in public, has an expectation to not be monitored and recorded for their time in public spaces. Simply, I can agree that an expectation of privacy in public is non-existent. This is based partially on the thought that no one would follow all the actions of an individual, but the ability for the State to record the actions of anyone in public from the time they enter the public space until they leave amounts to nothing more than stalking.

Perhaps video surveillance, open to the public, covering all governmental offices is in order. (Slight joke)


Michael Zimmer said...

Your "slight joke" -- mutual surveillance and disclosure to all -- is what some argue for, such as in Brin's Transparent Society. The problem, however, is that this vision fails to account for dissimilarities in power relations. Law enforcement can do a lot more to affect my life if they know all my secrets, than I can affect theirs....

Anonymous said...

I have been following the development of the Chicago surveillance system over at my blog,
Generally, they keep the footage for 30 days before they delete it / overwrite it. Naturally, if it is needed for an investigation, they can keep it longer.
I am not sure about FOIA request for a video.

Wyatt Ditzler said...

Very true Michael. Thank you for your thoughts.

Rajiv thank you for providing further information about the Chicago CCTV system.

Unknown said...

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