Unreasonable government surveillence?

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes federal, state, and local programs that it believes invade civil liberties in the name of national security.

One of its main concerns,according to the ACLU is protecting citizens from what it deems unreasonable government surveillance.

According to an ACLU spokesperson, “too often, government attempts to gather, store, use, and share sensitive private information about us, even where there is no reasonable suspicion that we are breaking any laws.”

The organization seeks limits on government video surveillance cameras, and fusion centers (which collect massive amounts of personal information under one roof).

On April 15, the Surveillance Camera Data Collection Act cleared the Illinois House floor, calling for transparency in the use of government surveillance cameras across Illinois.

The measure passed the Illinois House by a vote of 110 to 0 and will now move on to the Senate.

Yes, this may be protecting civil liberties, but will this impede on maintaining security?

Should civil liberties be protected at the stake of safety and national security?

In this specific case, the bill passed requires police agencies that own or have access to video surveillance cameras to disclose to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority the number of its cameras, and privacy regulations.

It also requires the authority to post this information on its website.

Yet posting on its website, makes it public. Should anyone be able to view these tapes?

ACLU claims dozens of government agencies across Illinois have installed thousands of video surveillance cameras in recent years, but very little information about these cameras has been released to the public.

However, Mary Mitchell, a Sun-Times columist said “despite the privacy concerns the American Civil Liberties Union has raised over the city’s network of security cameras, we need more of these cameras, everywhere.”

According to a former deputy undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security, over the past few years, Chicago has developed and deployed the most extensive and integrated system of surveillance cameras in our country.

The ACLU said these cameras have zoom capacity, automatic tracking and facial recognition which invade our privacy.

Does it invade our privacy or offer security?

The ACLU said it is the amount, integration and technological sophistication of these cameras that raise the following civil liberties concerns: “invasion of privacy, chilling of free speech, voyeurism, and discriminatory targeting.”

“The expansion of government surveillance cameras in Illinois raises profound questions about all of our privacy and other civil liberties,” said Adam Schwartz, senior staff counsel at the ACLU of Illinois. “The transparency provided by this bill will begin to answer those questions.”

“I wish there had been a surveillance camera nearby when the gang-bangers tagged my neighbor’s garage,” Mitchell said, “and having a blue-light camera will increase the odds that a hit-and-run driver involved in an accident could be apprehended.”

“Indeed, according to Chicago Police,” Mitchell added, “the cameras have helped the department solve more than 4,500 crimes since 2006.”

But the ACLU wants fewer cameras. The group argues that the city should be putting the millions used for the cameras into hiring more officers.

While Mitchell agrees with the ACLU in principle, she said putting more police officers on the streets isn’t going to solve crime.

Sun-Times articles: “Chicago needs more security cameras.”


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