Big Sister, Meet Big Brother

Rise of the Machines

Rise of the Machines

I recently had a rather unfortunate run in with a stoplight mounted video surveillance camera. Fortunately I didn’t literally run in to it, but the creepy invasion of privacy machine did happen to photograph me making a left turn at what I contend was a yellowish light.

Though I won’t go so far as to pose the “if a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it does it make a sound?” defense concerning criminal activity, I still think there’s something wrong with getting a ticket in the mail for allegedly breaking the law when there was no human around to judge if there may have been mitigating circumstances. (For instance maybe my car was already in the middle of the intersection and I needed to turn, or maybe I really had to get to a bathroom ASAP and I needed to make the light lest I have a really ugly accident.)

In fact, the state of Mississippi ruled that these “red light cameras” (which in Amsterdam have an entirely different connotation) needed to be removed because there were so many challenges to their accuracy and they tended to cause an increase in rear end collisions (my two points EXACTLY.)

But, just last week, the city council of Tiburon, a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, approved a measure to install these surveillance cameras on its streets to record the license plate number of every car entering and leaving Tiburon.

Tiburon Police Chief Michael Cronin justified the measure by saying he thinks keeping track of every vehicle will help keep the community safer because, according to the article in the SFGate, “Plates will be compared to databases of stolen or wanted cars, with matches triggering an immediate alert to local officers.”
Not surprisingly, this new law is making privacy advocates bananas. They think it’s a creeping invasion of our rights, and a downright scary use of public funds. But some residents, like 64 y.o. Yami Anolik, think it’s a great idea and believes privacy advocates should stuff it: “If you’re driving on a public road, you gave up your privacy already. If you want to be private, stay at home.”
Though in the eyes of the law Anolik is correct — if you’re out in public, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy — in my eyes this is not cool, and I’m not just saying that because I had to pay the state of New York $50 to get to the bathroom faster that fateful night.

Comments are closed.