Surveillance in America is nothing new. It dates back to around 1945 with the ending of World War II after the Soviet Union and the United States became rivals as the world powers. From bugs on tree trunks to cameras in shoes to airplane drones, surveillance tools have really evolved over the years. The United States has been spending huge amounts of money to create better spying technology especially after terrorism increased over the last 20 years. The 9/11 terrorists attacks has greatly contributed to the increase of surveillance in America. A journalist states in his article, “‘you were fighting a never-ending war that gave you a never-ending excuse for looking into people’s lives’” (qtd. in Bilton). After President Bush declared war on Iraq after the 9/11 attacks, the government has secretly and illegally taken over the lives of Americans.
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Publicly known organizations like the NSA and secret organizations like Prism have been illegally spying and keeping record of American lives. Surveillance technology has increasingly gotten more sophisticated now, with face- and object-recognition cameras. However, as sophisticated as they seem to be, they cannot stop the crime before it happens, and laws need to be passed by congress that limit the level of espionage. On the other side people believe that the government should be able to spy on its citizens. They feel that if there are more cameras on the streets of major cities like New York, Los Angeles, D.C. then everything will be a lot safer. Even personal recording devices like Google Glass can be useful especially in cases like the killing of Trayvon Martin. “If one of those witnesses — including Mr. Martin or Mr. Zimmerman — had been wearing Google Glass or another type of personal recording device, the facts of that night might have been much clearer,” stated Bilton in his article.
Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood volunteer killed Mr. Martin, a black teenager after a violent brawl between the two. There was no hard evidence, and the only piece of evidence was Mr. Zimmerman’s word. He was set free with no charges,
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and this angered many people across the nation. Also, after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April, the FBI used the cameras around the city to capture the suspects of the bombings. According to the CNN journalist, Heather Kelly, it took the FBI only three days to go through a pile of information to pinpoint the suspects of the bombings. She also stated, “Boston’s example has shown the power of these systems to help solve crimes, causing many to call for even more cameras” (Kelly).
It cannot be denied that these cameras are very effective at catching those responsible for their crimes. If it was not for those cameras, the criminals could still be free right now. Moreover, it is situations like these make people think that cameras can be very useful, and the government has the right to utilize them as a tool for punishment. However, these cameras cannot prevent any crime from taking place.
The only way this technology can be utilitarian is after the crime has taken place so the police can try to find the suspect. Amanda Alvarez, a write, editor, and a college instructor, explains in her article the reason why these cameras are not ready to be used. She states, “ Hair, hats, sunglasses, and facial expressions can throw off automated recognition” (Alvarez). Even though these cameras are “able” to recognize certain faces, sometimes they fail, and the police end up arresting the wrong person. In addition, Ms. Kelly states, “But it’s still not clear whether they are effective at preventing crimes” (“After Boston”). Even though the technology on these cameras has work to capture criminals, they still are not able to prevent crime, and sometimes, they can cause an unnecessary arrest.
This means that these cameras function the same way as a normal camera would. Congress should pass a law that bans this technology until the cameras are able to guarantee success 100% of the time. Instead of installing expensive cameras with face- and object-recognition technology, cities can have normal cameras installed, so the police will not arrest an innocent person.See More on Government