Atlanta Seeks Federal Aid for 500 Crime Surveillance Cameras


Atlanta has a few dozen cameras monitoring select locations in the city every second; the city has applied for millions in federal stimulus funds so it can train about 500 more cameras on city streets, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. City officials would like $13.7 million from Washington amid a series of high-profile crimes in recent months: a champion boxer shot dead in the street, a City Council member carjacked at gunpoint, a rash of armed robberies near Georgia Tech.

The system Atlanta plans to use could store images for 30 days and support software that reads license plate numbers and detects gunshots. Critics say the system conjures up images from George Orwell's “1984.” They wonder where the cameras will be pointed, who will have access to these images and sounds, how long will they be kept, and where will they be stored. “It's kind of creepy,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Mass surveillance is essentially directed toward everyone, so it doesn't matter if you are someone planning a crime or if you are a resident or tourist or someone who is walking into an office building to go to work. Everyone gets swept into these big databases.”

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