Video surveillance cameras are becoming an increasingly widespread feature of American life. Although surveillance cameras have been around for decades, in just the last few years we have seen something entirely new in the American experience: the construction of centralized, government-run camera systems.

The ACLU does not oppose placing cameras at specific, high-profile public places that are potential terrorist targets, such as the U.S. Capitol. But the impulse to blanket our public spaces and streets with video surveillance is a bad idea. The growing presence of cameras will create chilling effects that bring subtle but profound changes to the character of our public spaces.

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