Sunday, 27 December 2015

Safety does not come with compromises

A higher purpose for our society's safety - Millions of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras are installed in streets and businesses throughout the world with the stated goal of reducing crime and increasing public safety. CCTV cameras also have the potential of creating unintended effects, good and bad. The “halo effect” refers to the potential for greater security in areas outside the view of cameras. Referring to the security of our locality which also attracts thiefs, bugglars and other low level crimes which could be easily fought with the help of cctv vigilance.

Before we initiate the implementation, there are a set of principles and tools to ensure that citizens’ rights are respected with CCTV systems. These include -

Necessity: The use of camera systems must be justified empirically, Objectives and intended outcomes must be defined.

Proportionality: CCTV equipment must be appropriate for the problem it is intended to address. Data should be protected and the length of time it is retained be clearly defined.

Transparency: Citizens should know what the objectives of a CCTV system are, what its installation and operational costs are, the areas being surveyed, and what the results are.

Accountability: Those in charge of public CCTV systems should be clearly identified and accountable to the public, whether the systems are run by the government or private firms.

Independent oversight: An external body should be charged with ensuring that systems respect the public’s rights and are achieving their stated objectives.

To summarize Yes, public interest and safety along with surveillance cameras are here to stay. We need to draw definition of a public camera for public interest and intention must be addressed quickly. At the end safety does not come with compromises.

- Bhav Simran