Local News

Advocacy Group Claims Surveillance Cameras Invade Public's Privacy

Posted December 8, 2005 8:43 a.m. EST

— The American Civil Liberties Union says surveillance cameras paid for by Homeland Security installed at three Raleigh venues interfere with the public's privacy and could be used for racial profiling and voyeurism.

With a $200,000 Homeland Security grant, Wake County installed four cameras, which are positioned to watch Carter-Finley Stadium, the RBC Center and the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in an effort to find problems before they ever occur.

"Any area with a large amount of people is considered by the federal government a vulnerable location," said Wake County's Emergency Preparedness Specialist Michael Williams.

The cameras are part of a first-of-its-kind system. They are on a licensed secured frequency that is only accessible to law enforcement.

Police also believe the cameras can help locate missing children. And in the event of a mass evacuation, the extra surveillance could monitor each exit area for crowd problems.

But despite public officials' assurances that interference will not be an issue, the North Carolina ACLU's, executive director, Jennifer Rudinger, says the cameras interfere with people's privacy and is concerned the cameras could be abused.

"It's really getting to the point when every time you step outside your door, you are on camera and often it's the government watching and that has people concerned," Rudinger said.

Local law enforcement, however, stress the goal of the cameras is not abuse, but to ensure safety and fun.

After a double fatal shooting at a North Carolina State University football game in fall 2004, authorities placed a camera in the same parking lot where the shooting occurred.

"If something happens, we can swing the camera to it and give the responding units an idea of what they are getting into," N.C. State Police Chief Thomas Younce said.