Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lancaster, Pa., keeps a close eye on itself - Los Angeles Times

Lancaster, Pa., keeps a close eye on itself - Los Angeles Times: "Some 165 closed-circuit TV cameras soon will provide live, round-the-clock scrutiny of nearly every street, park and other public space used by the 55,000 residents and the town's many tourists. That's more outdoor cameras than are used by many major cities, including San Francisco and Boston.

Unlike anywhere else, cash-strapped Lancaster outsourced its surveillance to a private nonprofit group that hires civilians to tilt, pan and zoom the cameras -- and to call police if they spot suspicious activity. No government agency is directly involved.

Perhaps most surprising, the near-saturation surveillance of a community that saw four murders last year has sparked little public debate about whether the benefits for law enforcement outweigh the loss of privacy."

How surprising. A city grants huge power to a private corporation with no public debate about the implications for civil liberties. That has never happened before! Oh, wait.

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