It is clear that the debate will continue on about LPRs (License Plate Readers) and mass surveillance until either the cameras come down or we as a people lie down and take it. There are two sides to the issue of mass surveillance. Being able to see someone commit a crime or being able to locate someone that has committed a crime is a good thing, no doubt. But what are the costs to our civil liberties?
Watching citizens without any evidence of wrong doing just in case there is a bad guy out there (and we know there is) is like locking up all the good people in case there is a bad guy amongst the group instead of just locking up the bad guy. Even though there are those trying to sound the alarm about our possible loss of liberties, the governments are steadily putting up more cameras and other types of surveillance technologies. Will we be a society that completely gives way to being spied on by Big Brother? I agree that we have been conditioned to not only be tolerant, but accepting of the increase in mass surveillance and that mainstream media is guilty of “training” people to be complacent as far as being under the watchful eye of video cameras (Dority). The reality of being spied on by the people who control everything is not like the staged reality show “Big Brother” where the residents are well aware of the cameras and the fact that they are being watched. As Dority reminds us that what once was thought to be unacceptable is now upon us and that we are being watched with modern day technology as we give up our right to privacy and due process for the sake of security.
If we as a society continue to let the powers that be erode away at our liberties how will life be in the future? Will the surveillance continue to increase? All signs point to yes it will increase until they are peering into our very homes. At what level do they stop? At what point does the public decide that enough is enough? Even though there is a debate on this topic is there enough debate. The public needs to be alarmed but either they don’t care or they don’t know how much they are actually being watched. That is one side of this issue. The liberties we give up for what the other side would say is protection.
The police and those who are in favor of LPRs and mass surveillance in general would argue that the good outweighs the bad. And so what if you are being watched, what do you have to hide. Why do you care if you are doing nothing wrong? The police say it helps them catch the bad guys and the data will only be used for the good of society. The premise of “if we watch, we can protect” is a far reach in the defense of the act of spying. This is what the other side’s debate is about on the topic of mass surveillance and the good they do.
In her YouTube video, Catherine Crump states, “History has shown that once the police have massive quantities of data, tracking the movements of innocent people, it gets abused, maybe for blackmail, maybe for political advantage, or maybe for simple voyeurism.” Think about that, someone you do not know is looking at you, watching you, eavesdropping on your conversations. Really think about that statement. At what point do you want them to stop invading your privacy? What if you are not committing a crime against humanity, but one against your spouse such as having an affair? Would you want it to be recorded that you met your lover at the corner of Fifth and Main when you were supposed to be on the opposite side of town? Forever providing proof you were at that very spot at that very moment. What if someone who is privy to the data knows your spouse? Extra marital affairs are morally wrong but that doesn’t mean you should get caught in the act by mass surveillance. No more would one have the freedom of doing anything right or wrong without possibly of being seen doing it.
There are those who will defend our civil liberties even if we don’t see a need. This debate is far from over and let’s hope the fighters of liberties will not only get louder but grow in mass just as the surveillance has grown in recent years. It is never too late to reign in the control that government has upon our society. We could always start a privacy revolution and just stop driving or going anywhere. Would we trade our freedom to roam for our privacy and freedom from surveillance?
Works Cited Crump, Catherine. “Catherine Crump: The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you.” Online video clip. TEDTalks. YouTube. N.p., 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt4o-R9wzrs&feature=youtu.be>. Dority, Barbara. "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING! (Cover Story)." Humanist 61.3 (2001): 9. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 June 2015.