Question of the Day: Should Big Brother Be Allowed to Watch You?

Glenn Swanson
by Glenn Swanson

According to Police Chief Magazine, the Los Angeles County (CA) Sheriff’s office is launching the Advanced Surveillance and Protection (ASAP) program, ASAP. It’s a combination of technologies: high-resolution night vision video surveillance, acoustic gunshot detection (for that grassy knoll moment), automated license plate recognition (ALPR), “and other advanced components.” If a suspect vehicle drives through an intersection equipped with surveillance cameras (ALPR cameras are also mounted on the roofs of patrol cars), the system will alert the sheriff’s command center. Live images of the fleeing vehicle are transmitted to patrol cars, which can then go into pursuit. Finally, the command center can take control of the local traffic signals to reduce the potential for collisions involving innocent drivers. So here’s the question: is all this electronic policing a good investment, or should we just put more boots on the ground (cops in cars)? And should there be additional limits to police electronic surveillance?

Glenn Swanson
Glenn Swanson

Glenn is a baby-boomer, born in 1954. Along with his wife, he makes his home in Connecticut. Employed in the public sector as an Information Tedchnology Specialist, Glenn has long been a car fan. Past rides have included heavy iron such as a 1967 GTO, to a V8 T-Bird. In between those high-horsepower cars, he's owned a pair of BMW 320i's. Now, with a daily commute of 40 miles, his concession to MPG dictates the ownership of a 2006 Honda Civic coupe which, while fun to drive, is a modest car for a pistonhead. As an avid reader, Glenn enjoys TTAC, along with many other auto-realated sites, and the occasional good book. As an avid electronic junkie, Glenn holds an Advanced Class amateur ("ham") radio license, and is into many things electronic. From a satellite radio and portable GPS unit in the cars, to a modest home theater system and radio-intercom in his home, if it's run by the movement of electrons, he's interested. :-)

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4 of 52 comments
  • Shaker Shaker on Apr 07, 2008

    Well, if the moral infallibility of government can be proven and monitored closely by the citizens for abuse, then let them have their cameras... Wait... who's monitoring who?

  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Apr 07, 2008

    NICKNICK und NeonCat93-Haven't been blowin' you off. I'm not online over the weekend. First-"worthless" eliminates the possibility of "harmless", IMO. Someone always ends up carrying them, they influence others (say the "young and impressionable") to ruin/waste their lives. They raise kids in a mess that propagates lousy live for them. The "no man is an island" thing. Which brings us to the "Was this harm actual physical harm done to other people, or was it “they behave in ways I don’t agree with and I don’t like it”?" This question seems to suppose that these are the only two answers. Which is manifestly incorect. There are a vast swath of social, economic and relational damage in between the two extremes and over simplification will not remove the problems. The people I am thinking of are people I care about and affect people I care about, I recognize their "personal sovereignty" and respect it. That does not mean that their are no victims of their actions and that they do no harm. I think you are asking the wrong questions if you want to find the truth. My thoughts, Bunter

  • Menno Menno on Apr 07, 2008

    Psych101, I agree with a lot of your statements. Nowhere did I ask that only religious, or only Christian people "be allowed" to be in the ruling elite. I certainly have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that it would be what is now described as "liberal" courts who would be likely to over rule the surveillance society, however, since "liberals" have largely been in control of the Congress, or Presidential administration and increasingly in the Courts since 1933 - and the results speak for themselves. We're going down the path of another "liberal" nation - Britain - in being surveilled constantly, much as was warned might be the case by a certain George Orwell. As for whether I want to be constantly surveilled, the answer is a most emphatic NO. Likewise, I have enough faith in a large enough proportion of American citizens that they are intelligent enough to make reasoned decision (as long as they are NOT on illicit drugs) so that they too, should NOT be constantly surveilled by Big Brother, no matter who is in charge of the levers behind the curtain (i.e. in charge of the so-called republic).

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Apr 07, 2008
    I certainly have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that it would be what is now described as “liberal” courts who would be likely to over rule the surveillance society If you survey which judges cast which votes, you'll find that it is conservative justices such as Scalia who cast their votes in favor of law enforcement when there are conflicts between individual right and the authority of the police. The conservative justices are inclined to maintain a "law and order" approach when reviewing cases involving police authority. The conservatives are predisposed to supporting whatever it is that the police do, including cases during which it is acknowledged that the police overstepped their bounds. In those cases, Scalia et. al. are inclined to give the police the benefit of the doubt. You can expect this trend to continue. Law-and-order conservatives will be inclined to vote in favor of surveillance, because of their support for the police. Let's remember that it is law enforcement agencies that wanted these cameras in the first place, so you already know that's with whom the conservative justices will place their sympathies.