A Facebook post by my local police department provided the inspiration for this article. The department has recently come into the possession of a trailer mounted video surveillance setup. According to the post, the video from the trailer can be recorded and operated remotely from the dispatch center. Soon after acquiring the unit the department decided to set it up at the town beach for the weekend because they were anticipating heavy crowds.
Everything about the trailer, and especially the location they were planning on setting it up, set off alarm bells for me. I immediately believed this to be a serious invasion of privacy for all those at the lake. Sadly, only a minority of those commenting on the post saw this for the invasion of privacy that it is. Some even welcomed this invasion of privacy believing that the unit made them safe.
Video surveillance like this by different government agencies is becoming more prevalent across this country. I tried to determine lust how many surveillance cameras the various law enforcement agencies in the United States currently operate but could not locate the information online. Based on numerous articles I’ve encountered, such as this one by the ACLU, I believe the number will soon be astronomically high,
In lower Manhattan, for example, the police are planning to set up a centralized surveillance center where officers can view thousands of video cameras around the downtown – and police-operated cameras have proliferated in many other cities across America in just the past several years.
Because of the ever increasing number of surveillance cameras operated by law enforcement it is beginning to appear that the United States is turning into a surveillance state. According to Google a surveillance state is “is a country where the government engages in pervasive surveillance of large numbers of its citizens and visitors.” That certainly sounds like what we’re turning into.
Rather than accepting this out of control surveillance by law enforcement agencies the people of the United States should be condemning it quite loudly because it violates many principles that form the core of this nation. This quote by Benjamin Franklin perfectly sums up those principles:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Liberty is the freedom to do as you wish as long as you do not hurt others or interfere with the rights of others. As long as you don’t hurt others the government at all levels must leave you alone to live your life as you choose. That was one of the most important founding principles of this nation. The framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights would be aghast if they could see the level of surveillance carried out by government agencies. Unfortunately there are few today that understand this because of our dreadful education system. There are too many that bleat that tired old cliché “I don’t care if I’m watched because I’m not doing anything wrong.”