State Officials Right to Scrap Camera Spying Program, Says ACLU

March 8, 2011 5:38 pm

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COLUMBUS- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio was pleased that state officials announced today that they would not move forward with the Camera Integration Project (CIP). The program was designed to allow local officials access to an array of public and private surveillance cameras. The ACLU opposed the program as a dangerous encroachment of Ohioans’ privacy rights, and another increase in government surveillance of innocent Americans.

ACLU of Ohio Associate Director Gary Daniels said, “As technology has grown, so has the government’s desire to use it to spy on citizens. While it may be a powerful tool to keep us safe, we cannot accept these incremental invasions into our private lives without good reason and strong protections against abuse.”

In October 2010, the ACLU submitted a records request seeking all documents outlining who would have access to the system, when it may be accessed, penalties for the unauthorized use of the system, and who would responsible for oversight of the program. In its response, the state answered that they had not yet created many privacy protections to ensure the system would not be abused.

“Privacy should be one of the top concerns for public officials working with new technology, but it was clear that the CIP planners had given it little consideration. From its onset, the Camera Integration Program was ill-conceived,” added Daniels.

The ACLU has noted numerous privacy violations in recent years when proper protections were not in place. They included searches of Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher and American Idol contestant Crystal Bowersox’s state records, a Department of Public Safety attorney who pled guilty to intercepting emails intended for colleagues, and a Warren-area law enforcement officer using the police database to search for information on co-workers, neighbors, and local politicians.

“While we all wish to improve public safety, we must do so in a way that also protects the privacy of everyday Ohioans. As officials continue to seek out new uses for technology, they should do so only when meaningful safeguards are included to prevent snooping on innocent citizens,” Daniels concluded.

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