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Video Surveillance
You Are Being Watched spotlights the high costs of camera surveillance systems, both in terms of money and civil liberties. Do we want a society where we live under an ever-watchful video eye?

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Home > In The States > District of Columbia


> Millions Wasted for Neighborhood Spy Cameras, Information From Cameras Yields not a Single Arrest (ACLU-National Capital Area page)
> Opposition to centralized video surveillance system in Washington DC (ACLU-National Capital Area page)
> Take Action: oppose video surveillance in our nation's capital
> Testimony by ACLU's Barry Steinhardt on Surveillance System before DC City Council (December 2002)
> ACLU of National Capital Area testimony on Surveillance System before DC City Council (December 2002)
> Testimony of ACLU's Johnny Barnes on DC Surveillance Cameras Before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on the District of Columbia (March 2002)
> ACLU testimony on Surveillance System before DC City Council (February 2002)
> Letter to DC City Council on Camera Surveillance System from ACLU of the National Capital Area (February 2002)
> Letters With Questions About Camera Surveillance System from ACLU of the National Capital Area (February 2002)


"Metro Will Equip Buses, Trains With Cameras," The Washington Post, September 29, 2009. Online>

"Metro adds more cameras looking outward," Washington Examiner, May 11, 2009. Online>

"The Watchmen: How useless are the D.C. Police Department's crime cameras?," Washington City Paper, February 11, 2009. Online>

"Hallway cameras unnecessarily threaten privacy," The GW Hatchet, December 8, 2008.  Online>

"Freedom Under Surveillance, Part I," Independent Examiner, December 3, 2008. Online>

"D.C. police set to monitor 5,000 cameras," The Washington Times, April 9, 2008. Online>

"D.C. Police Cameras Are No Substitute for Shoe Leather," The Washington Post, February 24, 2008.

"Since they were installed in mid-2006, at a cost of $4 million, the cameras have been checked 551 times to see whether they might reveal details of a crime. In that time, information from the cameras has been used in 130 criminal cases. Albright did the math: That comes to a cost to taxpayers of $7,260 for each time the cameras have been checked and $30,769 for each time an image has been used in an investigation. "There have to be some better ways to spend this money," Albright says."

"Liberties Advocates Fear Abuse of Satellite Images," The New York Times, August 17, 2007. Online>

"Statistics Show Cameras Limited in Decreasing Violent Crime," The Washington Times, August 14, 2006.

"Surveillance cameras like those authorized by the D.C. Council for police investigations and now being put in place have shown limited success in decreasing violent crime in other cities. Baltimore, for example, set up about 80 cameras in May 2005 in high-crime neighborhoods. Volunteers and retired law-enforcement personnel monitor the images in real time, but the cameras have not helped put criminals behind bars."

"Border Camera System is Assailed," The Washington Post, June 17, 2005.

"Members of Congress yesterday denounced a $239 million camera system installed on the Mexican and Canadian borders as a scandal and an embarrassment, citing defective equipment, rampant overcharging by contractors and a failure by the U.S. Border Patrol and other government officials to properly oversee it."

"Surveillance Rules Are Needed To Save Privacy, Senators Say," The New York Times, August 2, 2002. Online>

"...Eyes...," The Washington Post, June 4, 2002.

"Washington's police department and the National Park Service justify video surveillance of individuals in the city by saying (1) cameras are a crime-prevention tool and (2) there is no expectation of privacy in public. So if neither of those statements proves to be true, will we see D.C. unplugged? Evidence suggests that surveillance cameras do not make citizens safer. London, which has more video surveillance than any city in the world, endured a 40 percent increase in street crime last year. At best, cameras seem to displace criminals to locations where they commit mayhem off-camera."

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