Public Surveillance and Right to Privacy
The rising rate of crime has compelled security agencies to adopt modern technology to contain the situation. Recently, considerable development of technology has significantly enhanced the surveillance on the citizens. For instance, In the United States, the Criminal Justice Department embraced the use of personalized cameras in the form of a chip to curb crime. Despite the benefits associated with public surveillance, the concept has created a conflict of interest regarding privacy. Therefore, the paper will focus on the comparison/contrast of public surveillance and violation of citizens’ privacy.
The use of electronic monitoring has proved advantageous for some reasons. Firstly, it has helped the police to arrest criminals committing or attempting to commit a crime on footage cameras. Secondly, it has helped enforce the set guidelines of arrest to prevent the excessive use of force by the police. Thirdly, it has contributed to the reduction of crime and the advancement of the public security system.
Government agencies, private organizations, and individuals have widely made use of public surveillance in their daily activities. Such include, transport operators, private investigators, retail shopping malls, and sports playgrounds. Surveillance performs many functions in boosting public safety. Additionally, it has helped in tracking the activities and actions of employees regarding duty performance. Besides, it has enabled large businesses such as supermarkets to safeguard their assets.
The advancement of technology has significantly increased the performance of surveillance devices. They have the capacity to trace culprits in a crowd, establish identity, trail movements, record conversations and assemble and share information to security agencies promptly. As technology advances and gets complicated, so do surveillance gadgets as well as their uses. For instance, military bases can detect missiles miles away and put into place safety measures. Also, they have installed machines that screen vehicles that enter their camps. Such devices depict the advantages surveillance has brought about regarding the security of the public against terror groups.
Other vastly used surveillance measures include security guards. They are efficient in protecting property since they do not require electricity to function. Moreover, they rarely infringe the privacy of their bosses. It is the cheapest means of safeguarding one’s assets, however; it is faced with several setbacks. For example, some security guards gain access to the premises of their bosses hence posing a risk to privacy.
Natural surveillance like street lighting reduces crime by increasing visibility. It increases the chances of offenders being recognized. Thus, the presence of light minimizes the likelihood of theft. Most criminals prefer carrying out their activities in the dark places with little interruption. Reports depict that few criminal cases are experienced in public domain as compared to private places.
According to (Swire, 2012), the surveillance machines does not interfere with the privacy of innocent citizens. It is only concerned with lawbreakers; thus they consider the privacy debate as invalid. If an individual is not involved in criminal deeds then should not be afraid of the public surveillance gadgets. As much as they violate the one’s privacy, security is also crucial. People should consider both perspectives and avoid stereotypic thinking. Therefore, both parties need to come together and compromise on the issue.
However, there has been a serious debate where the government considers state security more important than individual privacy. Courts are deliberating numerous cases on the operational limits of the surveillance. For instance, in the case U.S. v. Vargas, (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington, December 15, 2014), the court identified that surveillance cameras directed on the plaintiff’s front yard in a local set up contravened his right to privacy (Lankford, 2010).
Despite there being a regulatory framework concerning the operation of technical surveillance, the state has enforcement agencies have neglected public privacy. Researchers argue that the installation of footage cameras on public domain interfere with the right to privacy that is stipulated in the constitution of the United States. They claim that it infringes the freedom of people’s private life.
It has changed the way people use and make use of public facilities. As a result, some individuals have retreated to private areas where they are not in the limelight of surveillance devices. For instance, it has made criminals to improvise new ways of committing the crime. Bank robbers have learned the art of disabling security systems before breaking into safes. Usually, criminals are aware of the presence of surveillance devices in their target area. As a result, it has prompted them to apply dubious means to ensure that they are not tracked.
The security agencies have faced the problem of identifying the criminals recorded on footage cameras. It is because some of the officials in the law enforcement bodies collaborate with the perpetrators hence erasing evidence from the system. Additionally, the security system is weak faced with administrative challenges. Consequently, the citizens have lost confidence in public surveillance in providing them with safety instead it is being used to infringe the privacy of some individuals. Therefore, the private lives of people should be given the concern it deserves.
According to (Nouwt, Vries, and Prins, 2005), some of the obstacles that security personnel faces when they incorporate technology into their system. Such include technical problems whereby the devices becomes obsolete because technology keeps on changing. The primary concern that is experienced is the privacy problem. Violation of privacy remains to be a serious issue as shown by the number of court cases regarding infringement of the right to privacy. Thus, the Constitution of the United States attempts to safeguard its citizens against arbitrary arrest although privacy and security continue to be a concern to the security department.
Some studies state that privacy should precede security. Such concepts should attain a compromising end to gain efficiency. Their sentiments pose a conflict of interest with the previous scholars who consider the privacy of citizens to be of great importance. The government has embarked formulating legislative principles to guide law enforcement agencies and create awareness on the importance of public surveillance. Scholars recommend the creation of a regulatory body to ensure that monitoring gadgets are used correctly, and the privacy of the citizens is maintained appropriately. It should also promote responsible utilization of surveillance cameras.
In conclusion, the development of technology has resulted in the adoption of surveillance by security agencies. It has been linked to numerous benefits both to the government and to private sectors. Besides, security services have adopted the use of surveillance devices to curb the rising rates of crime. However, it has created a problem about the privacy of citizens. There has been a conflict of interest that public surveillance violates the right to privacy of citizens in the United States. It has resulted in people seeking justice in the courts.
Lankford, R. D. (2010). Are privacy rights being violated? (1st ed.). Detroit: Green Haven Press.
Nouwt, S., Vries, B. R., & Prins, C. (2005). Reasonable expectations of privacy?: Eleven country reports on camera surveillance and workplace privacy. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press.
Swire, P. P. (2012). Privacy and surveillance with new technologies. K. Ahmad (Ed.). New York, NY: International Debate Educ