The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois recently found that Chicago residents are some of the most most-watched citizens in the country, according to the Chicago Tribune. The city is apparently filled with 1,260 police surveillance cameras, and even more can be found within various public and private facilities and buildings.
The ACLU stated city officials have access to an integrated system of about 10,000 cameras, with Chicago Public Schools accounting for more than 4,500 and the Chicago Transit Authority having 1,800 in buses and train stations. The ACLU called for the city to stop expanding its video surveillance system until safety measures have been established to protect the "fundamental American right to be left alone."
“Chicago does not need a camera on every sidewalk, in every block, in every neighborhood,” said the ACLU.
New camera technology also gave camera operators the ability to zoom in and out on an individual or object and track a vehicle or image of a person’s face as it moves. The ACLU recommended that operators show probable cause before using any “facial recognition” technology. It said a policy should also be in place prohibiting operators from singling out a person on the basis of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
However, city officials and police argued that the surveillance system has helped fight crime and have played a key role in arresting 4,500 criminals since 2006. Some residents and businesses located in “hot spots” for crime also said that privacy was not a top priority for them, adding that the installments of surveillance cameras have made them feel safer.
Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Maureen Biggane said “public safety is a responsibility of paramount importance, and we are fully committed to protecting the public from crime.”
- Talk To A Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- ACLU Blasts Chicago’s Network of Cameras (Associated Press)
- Constitutional Law On Electronic Surveillance (FindLaw’s LawBrain)
- THE ACLU ON SURVEILLANCE: Despite Its Overarching Assessment Of How Monitoring Hars Privacy, A New Report Fails To Offer Constructive Solutions (FindLaw’s Writ)