A new website is working to develop a security camera map, mapping out the locations of security cameras throughout cities nationwide. They state that it will then allow activists to plan their protests or demonstrations through routes in the city and avoid private surveillance coverage that they claim may be used against them. While I can understand that many of the activists are peaceful, and perhaps this tool might help set at ease the minds of many of them. However, I certainly question, how innocuous is the protest, march or demonstration if remaining off of private security camera coverage is a key concern.
Even more troubling, is the unintended implication of having a public map of security camera locations. While the map will only be able to show the number and approximate locations of the security cameras, and not the coverage or resolution or even direction in many cases, this can become a clear map for more dangerous persons with ill-intentions. This map would be available easily to any criminal anywhere, and would give them a road map of how to avoid surveillance on their path to committing crimes against business owners or home-owners. So do we really want to hand out a blueprint of how to get away with crimes, or how to plan a crime that would avoid such detection. Is this really what we want to have published?
Now the site claims that this map will help activists protect their 'First Amendment rights by avoiding surveillance cameras when possible.' Now I am not a constitutional attorney by any means...or an attorney at all for that matter, but my understanding of the first amendment is that it does provide protection for freedom of speech, petition and assembly, freedom of religion and exercise thereof. However, I fail to see the importance in or the explicit freedom to avoid surveillance cameras. Despite conspiracy theorists rants, the surveillance technology of today is not approaching an Orwellian state by any means. Security cameras for businesses and homes do not connect to a massive government server where the location, face and identity of people are tracked, recorded and examined. The nature of our freedoms has dictated a much different path for the technology, delivering us to a much less intrusive evolution.
Security cameras are clusters of private recording, possessed to protect the individual business or homestead from crimes that would be perpetrated against them. While these cameras are not hidden in most cases, I think it irresponsible and dangerous to begin mapping on this wide of a scale, and possibly encroaching on individuals' ability to protect themselves. While the First Amendment DOES protect their right to publish this information, is it the right thing to do? I appeal to these individuals to reconsider the implications of widely publishing such a document.