Video surveillance cameras, also known as CCTV (closed-circuit television), are used to monitor public and semi-public areas, along with private or secret firms. Video recording devices are common in a lot of commercial establishments, such as malls, shops, banks, and other public facilities. They are also in places like parks, public transport stations, and pedestrian-friendly streets. It is assumed surveillance cameras ensure public safety, but there are definitely drawbacks despite the cutting-edge technology and innovation used for the project. Although keeping an eye on the public with cameras may seem like a worthwhile proposal, it is not; moreover, surveillance systems can be abused, are expensive, are ineffective, and invade personal privacy to an extent.
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Using surveillance cameras was once thought of as a means for protection; however, due to a misconception of what surveillance is, cameras in public have accumulated problems since the beginning. Individuals can misuse almost any camera system with little to no effort, despite how technologically advanced the system is or how tech-savvy the intruder may be. Trespassers who hack into camera systems probably stay updated with the latest technology, so they most likely know a way to get into various systems undetected. Ways to misuse cameras include criminal abuse, abuse for personal reasons (such as voyeurism), and discriminatory targeting. Unfortunately, there are no checks and balances that prevent the misapplication of security cameras. It is obvious that surveillance systems have the capabilities to perform in any area where they can be installed, but the fact that there are no boundaries on their use is a problem. The lack of control over such a large network of CCTV systems presents a significant danger to society as a whole. The Fourth Amendment in the United States Constitution does provide some limits to police searches using video surveillance, but there are no laws whatsoever protecting US citizens against abuse of CCTV systems or privacy invasions using security cameras. Even though laws are controlling audio recordings, there are no established rules which concern how long footage can be stored, who has access to footage (government or public), or what disciplinary actions would be administered to people who violate personal privacy.
In addition to that, general personal privacy is also a large concern when it comes to using surveillance systems. People knowing they are being watched persistently or that they are subject to being watched can deeply change their public character. This is not because everybody is walking around constantly breaking the law, but because people do not want to draw negative attention from armed law enforcement officials due to the way they present themselves, how they act, or what they buy/consume while they are in an area with recording devices. People deserve to go out and about regularly whilst feeling that their privacy and complexion are being protected and respected. Being monitored in several types of public places such as parking lots, schools, or malls may not feel specifically invasive; however, when the cameras are placed in more closed areas such as restaurants or doctor’s offices, citizens may feel as though they are being very closely patrolled for no reason at all.
One of the most obvious problems with public surveillance cameras is that they are expensive. A decent camera system will cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and the price range is dependant on the quality of the video, how long the camera hardware lasts, the features the system comes with, and how much area can be under surveillance. In addition to that, installation and regular maintenance are costly. Self-installation is hardly an option unless the installer has a fine knowledge of system wiring; otherwise, the finished product could be damaged, which only results in even more extra costs.
The greatest disadvantage of using CCTV systems in public is that they are not effective, at least for the right reasons. In most cases, cameras are installed to prevent theft, along with other petty crimes. However, nothing about surveillance cameras can aid in stopping a crime that is already in progress. There is no alert given when someone steals, breaks inventory without paying for it, or vandalizes company property. The best possible outcome is recognizing the criminals and charging them, as long as there is sufficient video evidence presented with the case. Even then, there are insurance claims to file and replacements to order.
All things considered, the benefits of establishing closed-circuit television monitoring systems do not outweigh the pitfalls. This intrusive technology can easily be manipulated for unethical reasons, the systems are not marketed at a price that is beneficial to the buyer, they do not secure safety and cannot actually protect people or property, and they do not safeguard or respect individuals right to privacy and freedom.