Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Big Brother" - Is he Superman, or is he Lex Luthor?

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Do you ever have the feeling that you are being watched?

The proliferation of surveillance cameras has made it likely that you could be under the watchful eye of … someone, at almost any time.

Cameras have been found inside retails stores, banks, and convenience stores for years. In recent years, that has spread to shopping malls and even outdoor locations. All in the name of keeping us safe.

The most recent buzz is the federal government’s use of military drones to spy on American civilians.
I am probably going to surprise many of you with my statement that, for the most part, I see nothing wrong with this.

The caveat to my statement is that this is sort of like Superman. It is great to have those super powers — as long as they are used for the good of mankind and you can keep Lex Luthor’s fiendish hands off.

No one wants to feel like they are being spied on. No one wants to be watched by “Big Brother.” And, we shouldn’t be.

By and large, there is no reason for someone to continually monitor each and every camera. Plus, continuous monitoring would be nearly impossible.

If used wisely — and discreetly — surveillance cameras have the potential to curb crime and get the bad guys off the streets.

How many of you have had the bad luck to have someone hit your car and then take off in an attempt to escape owning up to their mistake? How many times is there a burglary or robbery in which the crooks take off in a vehicle but police aren’t close enough to pinpoint a location or directions of travel?

These are but two scenarios of ways in which cameras could be useful.

If you stop and think about existing laws, this just fits in. If you are engaged in any activity in a public place, by and large, you are fair game for anyone who wishes to photograph you.

Another way to look at it, is that if you are not engaged in a criminal activity, what should it really matter if someone could potentially see you? Granted, I do not want some peering into my back yard while I sit in a lawn chair and relax. But, if someone breaks into my home, I sure wouldn’t mind an eye-in-the-sky to help track down the bad guy, get my stuff back and put him away.

There is an old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”

“Big Brother” cameras are a prime example. The list of possible good ranges from catching crooks to saving abducted children and so much more.

The bad, obviously, is that no one wants to feel as if they are being watched.

If a camera is accessed only when need to assist a citizen or catch a criminal, then they will be a welcome addition to any community.

It should be mentioned here, that “red-light” cameras should be totally outlawed. No, they are not entrapment. No one is being set up to run a red light. They are, however, in my opinion, illegal from a standpoint that Ohio law always stated that traffic offenses had to be witnessed by a uniformed officer in a marked police unit. Now, maybe some of these jurisdictions have altered their ordinances in order to pad the public coffers but, in my mind, traffic enforcement cameras are nothing more than a means to steal money from the motoring public.

On the other hand, how many times have two vehicles crashed in an intersection and both drivers claimed to have a green light? Those cameras could solve any dispute in the matter.
It is all in how the cameras are used.

Are we being protected by Superman, or monitored by Lex Luthor?

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