Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Chicago cameras?

ArsTechnica had an interesting article today, the SunTimes also reported this story-slightly differently here. What I did find amusing is that the 'red light cameras' are not used to stop (no pun intended) people from running red lights, but instead as a source of revenue. By using the cameras to gather data about an automobile's insurance, the cameras and the system behind it, will query insurance agencies and write appropriate citations. However the SunTimes article also mentioned use of other surveillance cameras around the city to tie into the same system.

Really the reason I bring this story to light is that it ties into the spread of surveillance cameras throughout Chicago, and other major urban areas, and that it seems to be twisting a punishment into a revenue source. Spurred on by a few colleagues I have started to research into public surveillance networks and their effects on privacy. Unfortunately, the US is rather behind in the times in studying this convergence, save a few excellent authors. Possibly because the systems are not as pervasive. Yet camera systems seem to be popping up more frequently in American cities without a real debate or examination these systems have on privacy or concepts of privacy.

It is one thing to expect little privacy in public, but quite another for someone to watch and archive any and every move you make in public then protecting that data from abuse.

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