I know from comments on earlier posts that some of you aren't bothered all that much by the growing number of surveillance cameras. Hey, they're in public places where we have no expectations of privacy, right? But how close to your front door do they have to get before you'll get worried?
The ACLU of Michigan recently put out an interesting report on surveillance cameras. Like other ACLU reports on cameras (such as those by our affiliates in Illinois and Northern California, and the materials on our national site) it summarizes the policy arguments against cameras. But it also focuses on a uniquely disturbing application of surveillance cameras: their deployment in residential neighborhoods.
[. . .]
Today’s surveillance units in residential Lansing not only provide a 360-degree view of the area up to 500 feet, but also have zoom capabilities. Each day, the cameras engage in 24-hour viewing and imaging of the surrounding area utilizing high-definition color, night vision, and focus features that resolve minute detail in even the most severe environmental conditions. This means that the Lansing cameras give police the ability to read words on a piece of paper in someone’s hand within 50 feet, clearly discern a license plate that is 300 feet away, or recognize a face at 400 feet. Although the cameras are not monitored 24 hours a day, everything viewed by the cameras is digitally recorded and stored on hard drives for two weeks or more.
Supposedly there are "privacy zones" in which video is not recorded, such as the windows of homes. But if they have the technical capability to peek in, somebody will start using. They always do.