London-style CCTV Coming to New York

Deven Desai

Deven Desai is an associate professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School. Professor Desai’s scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society’s interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review.

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1 Response

  1. dc user says:

    The argument that CCTV fails to prevent crime/terrorism because the police can’t respond quickly enough has always struck me as incredibly facile — so facile, in fact, that I believe the opponents of CCTV are purposefully blinding themselves to the main way that CCTV prevents crime:

    1) CCTV helps identify both perpetrators and witnesses, and hence helps convict criminals after their crimes, even if it doesn’t help the police to intervene concurrently in a particular crime.

    2) Many criminals are repeat offenders.

    3) By taking the offender off the street (and into jail) before he repeats his crime, the CCTV lowers crime.

    Now let’s try the terrorism variant:

    1) CCTV helps to identify terrorists and trace their movements after their attacks. (Example: England’s use of 7/7 bombing footage)

    2) Terrorists frequently work in cells (or informally affiliate with other terrorists) to coordinate plans, supplies, financing, technology, document forgeries, and so forth. 3) Identifying the terrorists and their confederates (and tracing their movements) helps you to identify, investigate, arrest, and prosecute the other members of their cells. It helps you cut off financing and supplies.

    4) Even if particular suicide bombers can only do one attack, their affiliates and cells may be plannning other attacks — or would make new plans for new attacks in the future.

    5) Voila — CCTV can reduce future terrorism attacks.

    Now – none of this means that CCTV is ultimately worth it. We may well decide that these marginal improvements in our ability to prosecute crime/terrorism (and hence prevent future crimes/attacks) are not worth it given the privacy intrusions. But let’s have an honest debate.