Global public safety and security market forecast to grow to $537 billion by 2024

In its latest Global Public Safety and Security Market report, NK Wood Research projects the market to grow from $234.57 billion in 2016 to $537.20 billion by 2024. The growth will occur at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.91% between 2016 and 2024. According to the report s findings people and enterprises face continuous threats from cyber criminals, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks, which has boosted demand for public safety and security products and services globally.

Governments are contributing to the growth in demand for these goods and services. The global public safety and security market is segmented by products/solutions, services, verticals, and geographical regions. The solutions market is sub-segmented into critical communication networks, surveillance systems, biometric security, authentication systems, scanning and screening systems, C2/C4isr systems, emergency and disaster management, backup and recovery systems, public address and general alarms, and cyber security. Critical communication networks holds largest market share in the global public safety and security market and is expected to continue to be the biggest market over the forecast period. However the emergency and disaster management market is anticipated to grow at the fastest CAGR to 2024. The report splits the market regionally into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and rest of world (ROW). North America was the highest revenue-generating region in 2016, due to spending on defence, compared with other countries. The report anticipates that the riot control equipment market will grow in the US, following the rise in the number of cases of violent related crimes in North America, especially US. This is partly due to availability of guns and rise in violence among street gangs.

Asia Pacific is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Japan has been the site of some of the worst natural disasters of the 21st century, a phenomenon that has led to the growth of the public safety and security market in the region. Free Download: The key to mitigating cybersecurity risks Exploiting IoT technology without creating cybersecurity vulnerabilities is one of the defining challenges in today s security landscape.

This report will help you to see why third parties should adhere to secure by design principles and why the necessary convergence of IT and security departments demands a holistic approach .

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Nominations open for UK OSPAs

Nominations are now open for the second UK Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs), which will take place in London on March 1. The UK OSPAs the first of which took place earlier this year recognise and reward companies and individuals across the security industry. The awards are held in eight countries and aim to be both independent and inclusive, by providing an opportunity for chosen nominees and winners, whether buyers or suppliers, to be recognised and their success to be celebrated.

The criteria for the awards are based on extensive research into key factors that contribute to and characterise outstanding performance. Perpetuity Research has contributed to the creation of the criteria. The OSPAs are organised in collaboration with security associations and groups in the countries they take place in, with standardised award categories and criteria. Nominations are open until the November 13 2017. Submissions are invited in several categories. These include: Outstanding In-House Security Team , Outstanding In-House Security Manager , Outstanding Contract Security Company , Outstanding Security Consultant and Outstanding Customer Service Initiative . Entry to the UK OSPAs is free and is open to companies, teams and individuals who have performed at an exceptional level. The nomination process is simple with only two questions to answer. A panel of leading industry figures will select award winners from finalists and the UK OSPAs will be presented at a prestigious awards dinner to be held at the Royal Lancaster, London on March 1 2018.

For more information about entering the OSPAs see here Free Download: The key to mitigating cybersecurity risks Exploiting IoT technology without creating cybersecurity vulnerabilities is one of the defining challenges in today s security landscape.

This report will help you to see why third parties should adhere to secure by design principles and why the necessary convergence of IT and security departments demands a holistic approach .

Download now Related Topics Finalists announced for the Security & Fire Excellence Awards 2017 Young professionals: Share your fire-safety ideas and jumpstart your career (and maybe win a prize) Benchmark Innovation Awards 2017: winners revealed

The international league table of cybersecurity: How cyber-safe is your country?

infographic The infographic below details the countries that are the most and least safe in terms of vulnerability to cyber-attack. Full of fascinating comparisons, the visual gives league tables for the countries with the highest and lowest rates of malware infection; the highest number of users attacked with ransomware; the most targeted countries for web app attack traffic; the highest percentage of global DDoS attacks; those most affected by cyber espionage; and many more Thank you to for letting us use this infographic. is a consumer advice resource that helps consumers make better decisions when they subscribe to tech services such as VPNs, antivirus and security products.

Source: Free Download: the Cyber Security Crashcourse This report contains 40 slides packed with insight into the trends shaping the industry and how you can protect yourself.

Eric Hansleman from 451 Research presents a rapid-fire overview of cyber security.

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Petya/GoldenEye: Cybersecurity experts respond to ransomware attack

The latest ransomware virus to sweep the globe started in Ukraine after users there downloaded a popular tax accounting package or visited a local news site, according to Ukrainian police and cyber experts. Called GoldenEye or Petya, the virus has affected thousands of computers, disrupting organisations in a wide range of sectors, from shipping to manufacturing. US shipping company FedEx, Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk and Russian oil giant Rosneft are among those hit by the attack.

The malicious code locks machines and demands that victims pay a ransom of $300 in bitcoins or lose their data. The hackers motives are still unclear, with some experts speculating that, given the modest sums demanded, a motive other than financial gain might be driving them. A number of cybersecurity experts offered their analyses to IFSEC Global, which you can read below. Eldon Sprickerhoff, founder and chief security strategist, eSentire Attacks are becoming more widespread, are moving faster, and are harder to kill The eSentire threat intelligence team has confirmed one variant associated with this attack, however broadly there are more than 50 different flavours of ransomware variants in the wild. Of those flavours, behaviors prompt the rapid deletion of files and exfiltration of data. Recently we ve tracked a new variant which works to lock down passwords before encryption, making backup restoration particularly tricky. This attack amplifies the rapid evolution of ransomware; attacks are becoming more widespread, are moving faster, and are harder to kill. While this attack is hitting Europe harder than other countries (at the moment), it is moving quickly and businesses worldwide should treat this as the warning siren. Take this as an opportunity to ensure that offline backups and system patches are up-to-date, and tested.

Dr Jamie Graves, CEO, ZoneFox It s not just computer systems shutting down; it s energy grids losing power, ships stopping in their tracks and people not being able to access their money This is further confirmation that we now live in a world where nation-state sponsored cyber-attacks are becoming as routine as real-world incidents. This latest attack reminds us of two crucial facts regarding the current state of cyber security: that attackers now have access regardless of whether they are state-sponsored or independent to military-grade cyber weaponry, hence the fact that the attacks are so successful. Secondly, that digital data is directly linked to physical assets; it s not just computer systems shutting down, it s energy grids losing power, ships stopping in their tracks and people not being able to access their money. Despite the headlines it will create, especially in the wake of the recent WannaCry incident, this is old news. The origin of this attack looks to be a phishing email that delivers a rebranded piece of ransomware, with the only addition being the NSA EnternalBlue exploits that WannaCry used. If you don t have adequate security in place and a seriously security-conscious culture, you re going to get a free penetration test to show just how vulnerable your organisation really is. Marty P Kamden, CMO, NordVPN One way to protect yourself is to disrupt a system before it boots, as the ransomware runs on boot The latest ransomware assault seems to be particularly dangerous. One of the best protection mechanisms are patches, but they might not always work with this new version of Petya. Another way to protect yourself is to disrupt a system before it boots, as the ransomware runs on boot.

After the device gets infected with a ransomware, it will wait for about an hour until reboot. Reboot is required for a malware to encrypt the system, so in certain cases, if the device gets terminated in the encryption process, it gets disrupted and information can be saved. Generally, system administrators are still not well-prepared to protect their networks, and these attacks will only keep getting worse. Matt Kingswood, UK head, IT Specialists The best way to prepare for an attack is to back up data regularly to the cloud The news story on the new variant of the Petya ransomware dubbed PetrWrap exposes just how complex and well evolved cyber threats have become. Researchers from Kaspersky have documented that the group behind PetrWrap created a special module that patches the original Petya ransomware on the fly . While Kaspersky has a signature for this ransomware already, other AV providers are sure to follow soon. Although there are a range of best practices to reduce the risk of a ransomware infection (such as installing an antivirus scanner, utilising intrusion detection services, applying updates as soon as possible and avoiding unsolicited email attachments), there is no failsafe method for preventing ransomware. The best way to prepare for an attack is to back up data regularly to the cloud. Secure cloud-to-cloud backup solutions create another, encrypted version of your data and maintain prior versions ‘ in the case of a ransomware attack, the versions before the attack.

And, of course, this second copy has the added benefit of preventing data loss via accidental deletion. Free download: The video surveillance report 2017 Sponsored by IDIS The Video Surveillance Report 2017 covers all things video surveillance based on a poll of hundreds of security professionals. Specifically looking at topics such as open platforms, 4K, low-light cameras, video analytics, warranties and this year due to the growing threat posed, the cybersecurity landscape.

Further topics covered include: The network cameras hijack during the 2017 presidential inauguration, updates on the forthcoming EU data protection law (the GDPR), ultra-low light cameras versus thermal cameras and much more.

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Want to export outside the UK in the defence and security markets?

Get some advice at IFSEC 2017

IFseC 2017 IFSEC Global asked the BSIA and Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) to answer some questions about their presence at IFSEC 2017. The Small Business Advisers from the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) within the Department for International Trade (DIT) are in the DIT area of the BSIA Business Lounge to provide advice and support to UK companies seeking to export in the defence and security markets. They will highlight the various services and capabilities that DSO can offer and can put you in touch with various market, sector or military experts, as well as providing links to wider DIT.

They can also explain how DSO could help SMEs to enter these markets through its links with various UK prime companies and trade associations. IFSEC International runs between 20-22 June 2017 at London ExCeL. Visit the DIT area of the BSIA Business Lounge for exporting advice. Get your free badge now. IFSEC Global: What does BSIA and DSO offer the UK security sector? BSIA: As a Trade Challenge Partner (TCP) the BSIA is committed to helping the UK security sector export its products and services into the international markets. We work closely with the Department for International Trade (DIT) to promote the UK brand and as a TCP facilitate UK Pavilions in security exhibitions to showcase the industry s innovation, quality and experience. DSO: The Defence and Security Organisation, now part of the Department for International Trade, offers advice and assistance to the UK security sector to help them achieve export success. It has overall responsibility for promoting UK trade across the world, and attracting foreign investment to the UK.

The Organisation works with companies to help them export their security capabilities supported by closer working with the Home Office and other Government Departments. IG: What will DSO and BSIA be prioritising at IFSEC 2017? BSIA: As the premier exhibition for the security industry here in the UK, the BSIA hosts the international visitors lounge, bringing together international visitors and UK companies looking to develop partnerships. Working alongside UBM, the BSIA lounge offers visitors and exhibitors alike the opportunity to meet in an informal and relaxed environment to discuss opportunities and build relationships. DSO: The Defence and Security Organisation aims to get as many defence and security companies as possible exporting, and to achieve this, will be attending IFSEC to provide advice and guidance to security companies who wish to export. Available in the DIT area of the BSIA lounge, representatives of DSO s Small Business Unit will be able to provide specific advice to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) on how to market security products. They can also provide details of events and activities they run aimed at introducing small companies to UK and overseas prime contractors. IG: What (export) support does DSO and BSIA offer to the UK security sector? BSIA: As a TCP the BSIA can draw down Tradeshow Access Partner (TAP) funding, allowing exhibitors in the UK Pavilion at international exhibitions the opportunity to claim up to 2,500 to offset the cost of exhibiting.

In addition, the BSIA will assist in designing and building stands and be onsite to help ensure exhibitors have a successful event. DSO: In addition to DSO s Small Business Unit providing advice to SMEs, DSO has a number of desk officers who have developed country expertise and well as active overseas engagements with foreign governments, politicians and officials. There are also two dedicated security specialists who can provide expert specialist export advice and practical assistance to security companies, and we also have in country police and security experts in some key markets who provide that vital on the ground intelligence. DSO also has a dedicated Events Team (a member of which will be at IFSEC) who can offer advice to companies on how to exhibit as part of a DIT DSO organised UK Pavilion. IG: What do you both see as the principal challenges for the UK security sector in 2017 and beyond? BSIA: The recent horrific terrorism events in the UK, France and Belgium have served as a wake-up call for businesses worldwide. This has resulted in organisations reviewing their physical and electronic security as well as tightening their security processes. More is now expected from the security they procure and the security solutions they already have in place, to enable businesses to stay ahead of the criminal fraternity and protect individuals and assets. This acts not only as a challenge for the UK sector but more importantly presents a real opportunity.

Being part of a UK Pavilion can help new exporters to dip their toe in the water before they fully commit to any given market. BSIA DSO: National security is the first priority of HMG, and being able to respond quickly to new and emerging threats and develop the technologies to counter them is the key challenge for the UK security sector. The UK has a strong and proud tradition in security innovation and that is due to its creative, dynamic and innovative SME Community, and it is due to our reputation as a world leader in manufacturing and services that other countries look to us to meet their capability requirements. IG: In your views how will the prospect of Brexit impact on the UK security sector? BSIA: The decision to leave the EU has created uncertainty for the UK. However, organisations should seize the opportunity to boost their global competitiveness by investing now in successful sector-based exporting strategies, focusing on the security industry s strengths of innovation, quality and experience. This will ensure the sector is best prepared for any global challenge it might face in the years ahead. DSO: We can not predict how Brexit will impact the UK security sector. But we can say that the Department for Exiting the European Union is leading on the negotiations for our departure and will ensure we get the best possible deal for the UK.

In the meantime, the UK is clear in its message to businesses and our international partners: We are open for business. IG: What key areas do UK security companies need to consider when embarking on export? BSIA: Exporting can be an unnerving experience for some companies. However, it is worth the effort. Exporting brings many benefits for UK businesses, not least of all increasing an organisation s sales revenue but also allowing companies to diversify their markets meaning that they become less dependent on any single market for sales. Being part of a UK Pavilion can help new exporters to dip their toe in the water before they fully commit to any given market. It also allows new exporters learn from more experienced companies who are part of the pavilion. Remember, there is a lot of advice available to companies; DiT, Trade Associations and Chambers of Commerce all offer advice and guidance on overseas markets to minimalise any risks. DSO: There is a wealth of information available on the DIT/Exporting is Great website to help companies export their products from those new to exporting and the occasional exporter to companies that regularly sell overseas.

Issues to consider include shipping and logistics, financial assistance, rules, regulations and restrictions, export opportunities and all these issues play a part in determining whether companies should export and if so, likely markets. IG: What key territories does DSO and BSIA recommend the UK exporting manufacturers consider? BSIA: Each year the BSIA conducts research on its members target markets. UAE, ASEAN and Europe are all key territories for its members. However, there are some interesting developments with other markets such as India and the USA becoming more attractive to UK security exporters. The BSIA has a list of shows it s facilitating or considering facilitating a UK Pavilion at. These include: IFSEC SE Asia IFSEC India Intersec Dubai Intersec Saudi ISC West DSO: There are numerous markets for security exports DSO can provide advice on the landscape of opportunities, which often depend on the nature of products. IG: How can interested IFSEC exhibitors engage with BSIA and DSO at IFSEC 2017? BSIA: The BSIA is exhibiting at IFSEC 2017 alongside DSO, and its staff are on hand to provide advice and guidance to exhibitors and visitors to the show.

DSO: Members of DSO will be attending IFSEC and will be available to speak to companies who wish to export. IFSEC International runs between 20-22 June 2017 at London ExCeL. Get your free badge now. Visit Europe s leading security event in June 2017 Visit IFSEC International for exclusive access to every security product on the market, live product demonstrations and networking with thousands of security professionals. From access control and video surveillance to smart buildings, cyber, border control and so much more. It is the perfect way to keep up to date, protect your business and enhance your career in the security industry. Click here to register your place now to join us at London Excel on 20 22 June 2017.

Clarify – Private Investigation Services

Clarify aim to successfully complete all private investigation services professionally and as unobtrusively as possible.

With corporate clients, such as the legal professional, procedural cases will be executed with minimum client disruption and interaction. The opposite approach is adopted when handling more delicate and personal matters such as matrimonial issues. Here there is an obvious need for more detailed communication and discussion.

Clarify clients come from all walks of life.

Some will deal with sensitive issues on a daily basis but, for others, it may be a once in a life time situation. This alone can be stressful enough without getting involved with the likes of a PI or private investigator! Clarify aim to reduce stress from the moment contact is made.

Clarify understand the reluctance to bring an outsider into personal matters and treat each case accordingly.

All potential clients are offered an initial free consultation or meeting which can be arranged in a public location if desired. With many of Clarify s general private investigation services this would be obligatory as a proper assessment of the assignment would be needed. This is the opportunity for the two parties to get to know each other with absolutely no obligation to proceed further. It is up to the client.

At Clarify the aim is to make the client s life easier. Make outsourced tasks flow smoothly for the corporate client and to reduce stress, worry and uncertainty from a private client s everyday life.

Applying deep learning to cyber security: Q&A with Deep Instinct CEO Guy Caspi

Applying Deep Learning To Cyber Security: Q&A With Deep Instinct CEO Guy Caspi

Deep Instinct is the first company to apply deep learning to cyber security. Guy Caspi, the Israel-founded company s CEO, spoke to about the complexities of deep learning and how Deep Instinct spotted a gap in the ballooning market for combating cyber security threats. This interview was originally published on Before discussing today s cyber security threat environment and Deep Instinct solutions in greater detail, please tell us about your background and company history? Guy Caspi: I ve utilised my advanced degrees in Mathematics, Machine Learning and Business to apply mathematics and machine learning in a technology elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as well as in financial institutions and intelligence organizations around the world. Over the past two decades, I ve led some of the largest government cyber and big data projects in Israel and other countries. Founded in 2014, and out of stealth mode since November 2015, Deep Instinct is the first company to apply deep learning to cyber security. With offices in Tel Aviv, Israel and in North America, we now have 65 employees. Our company has a winning combination of people who have the academic knowledge and credentials, paired with unique experiences in cyber security gained through years in the intelligence and elite units that focused on cyber- attacks. We adopt the mindset of hackers in order to be prepared for all vulnerabilities. In addition, Deep Instinct s dedicated deep learning research group is headed by one of the leading researchers in the field of computational intelligence. Moreover, the company has a highly-experienced management team that leverages its cyber security and academic backgrounds to carry out a successful product that offers an effective solution to address a critical need in the industry. Your site claims that Deep Instinct is The first company to apply deep learning to cyber security . Please give us an overview of how Deep Instinct works. GC: Deep Instinct s core technology is deep learning, which is an advanced branch of artificial intelligence (AI). Deep learning is inspired by the brain s ability to learn: once a brain learns to identify an object, its identification becomes second nature. Similarly, as Deep Instinct s artificial brain learns to detect any type of cyber threat, its prediction capabilities become instinctive. Deep learning has exhibited groundbreaking results when applied to computer vision, speech, and text understanding and we are the first company to apply it to the cyber security domain. In cyber security, there a big need for solutions that can protect against brand new (zero-day) threats in real-time a critical issue that causes great vulnerabilities to almost every business. Deep learning is complex and its application has a very high barrier entry because the neural networks are comprised of tens of hundreds of layers and the mathematics required to create such layers is extremely difficult. Even once this hurdle is passed, the implementation of running massive data sets using GPUs (Graphic User Interface) is not an easy feat.

Moreover, creating a deep learning-based technology that can run as an on-device client requires great expertise that raises the bar even higher. The few companies that have demonstrated these capabilities have mostly been acquired by giants, such as Google, Facebook and Salesforce. Furthermore, Deep Instinct does not use open source deep learning libraries but instead, has created its own. What are the major benefits with respect to detection, prevention, accuracy, ease of deployment and other features. Guy Caspi: Deep Instinct offers a unique solution of prevention, which includes blocking malware before it is activated and can cause harm. Many new solutions on the market can only offer detection and prevention once the business has been infected, but we can detect and prevent before any damage occurs. By way of analogy, if a business were a person and the malicious attack were poison, other cyber security vendors need the person to first touch the poisonous object to then they can act and prevent the poison from spreading throughout the body. From Deep Instinct s perspective, we can tell the person not to touch the poisonous object in the first place because we immediately identified it as harmful. Moreover, Deep Instinct focuses on unknown threats and APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) attacks whether they are in a file-less manner or already existing in the system.

Instead of waiting for the next unexpected attack, the next unknown attack is identified and blocked in real-time before any harm can occur. The ability to offer immediate prevention extends beyond a network or Internet connection by covering the device even when it is not connected to them. Furthermore, our detection rates are substantially higher that existing solutions on the market. This unprecedented accuracy in predicting unknown cyber threats is enabled by the application of proprietary deep learning algorithms. Deep learning s capabilities of identifying malware from any data source results in comprehensive protection on any device, platform, and operating system, filling in gaps by providing complete solutions. Finally, deployment is fast and seamless and the solution s operations do not affect the user experience. Click here to read the full interview on Download: The Video Surveillance Report 2016 This exclusive report covers the security needs of surveillance systems as shaped by the physical environment including: What do security professionals think about plug-and-play systems Challenges like low-light conditions or large spaces and the threats posed in various sectors Which cutting-edge features such as mobile access, PTZ smart controls or 4K resolution are most important to security professionals What are the most important factors driving upgrades and would end users consider an upgrade to HD analogue Download the full report here.

Skross World Travel Adapter 2 With Dual USB Charger. Swiss Designed For Safety And Quality. Charge iPads, iPhones, iPods, Blackberrys And Other USB Devices In Over 150 Countries. As Stocked By Major World Airlines

Skross World Travel Adapter 2 With Dual USB Charger. Swiss Designed For Safety And Quality. Charge iPads, iPhones, iPods, Blackberrys And Other USB Devices In Over 150 Countries. As Stocked By Major World Airlines

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Mass surveillance in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Main article: Mass surveillance

The practice of mass surveillance in the United States dates back to WWI wartime monitoring and censorship of international communications from, to, or which passed through the United States. After the First World War and the Second World War, the surveillance continued, via programs such as the Black Chamber and Project SHAMROCK. The formation and growth of federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA institutionalized surveillance used to also silence political dissent, as evidenced by COINTELPRO projects which targeted various organizations and individuals. During the civil rights era, many individuals put under surveillance orders were first labelled as integrationists then deemed subversive. Other targeted individuals and liberation movement groups include Native American activists, African American and Chicano liberation movement activists, and anti-war protesters. Native American tribal members have been subjected to continuous mass surveillance by the FBI, and more recently by the Department of Homeland Security.12

The formation of the international UKUSA surveillance agreement of 1946 evolved into the ECHELON collaboration by 19553 of five English-speaking nations, also known of as the Five Eyes, and focused on interception of electronic communications, with substantial increases in domestic surveillance capabilities.4

Following the September 11th attacks of 2001, domestic and international mass surveillance capabilities escalated far beyond the levels permitted by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Based upon annual presidential executive orders declaring a continued State of National Emergency, first signed by George W. Bush on September 14, 2001 and then continued on an annual basis by President Barack Obama,5 and upon several subsequent national security Acts including the USA PATRIOT Act, the PRECISE Act, and FISA Amendment Act’s PRISM surveillance program, critics and political dissenters currently describe the effects of these acts, orders, and resulting database network of Fusion centers as forming a veritable American police state that simply institutionalized the illegal COINTELPRO tactics used to assassinate dissenters and leaders from the 1950s onwards.6789

Additional surveillance agencies, such as the DHS and the position of Director of National Intelligence have exponentially escalated mass surveillance since 2001. A series of media reports in 2013 revealed more recent programs and techniques employed by the US intelligence community.1011 Advances in computer and information technology allow the creation of huge national databases that facilitate mass surveillance in the United States12 by DHS managed Fusion centers, the CIA’s Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) program, and the FBI’s TSDB.

Mass surveillance databases are also cited as responsible for profiling Latino Americans and contributing to unethical Self-deportation techniques, or physical deportations by way of the DHS’s ICEGang national database.13


Wartime censorship and surveillance

During the world wars of the 20th century, all international mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service and international cables sent through companies such as Western Union, ITT, and RCA were sent under the surveillance authority of the Bureau of Investigation, later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation,14 and reviewed by the US military.15 During World War II, first the War Department and later the Office of Censorship monitored “communications by mail, cable, radio, or other means of transmission passing between the United States and any foreign country”.16 In 1942 this included the 350,000 overseas cables and telegrams and 25,000 international telephone calls made each week.17:144 “Every letter that crossed international or U.S. territorial borders from December 1941 to August 1945 was subject to being opened and scoured for details.”16

Black Chamber

1919: The Black Chamber, also known as the Cipher Bureau and MI-8, was the first U.S. peacetime cryptanalytic organization, jointly funded by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of State. It conducted peacetime decryption of material including diplomatic communications until 1929.1819


1945: The now-defunct Project SHAMROCK was created to gather all telegraphic data entering into or exiting from the United States.1820 Major communication companies such as Western Union, RCA Global and ITT World Communications actively aided the U.S. government in the latter’s attempt to gain access to international message traffic.21

National Security Agency (NSA)

Mass Surveillance In The United States At the request of the U.S. Army, those who protested against the Vietnam War were put on the NSA’s “watch list”.21

1947: The National Security Act was signed by President Truman, establishing a National Security Council.22

1949: The Armed Forces Security Agency was established to coordinate signal operations between military branches.23

1952: The National Security Agency (NSA) was officially established by President Harry S. Truman by way of a National Security Council Intelligence Directive 9, dated Oct.

24, while the NSA officially came into existence days later on Nov.

4.18 According to The New York Times, the NSA was created in “absolute secrecy” by President Truman,24 whose surveillance-minded administration ordered, only six weeks after President Truman took office, wiretaps on the telephones of Thomas Gardiner Corcoran, a close advisor of Franklin D.

Roosevelt.25 The recorded conversations are currently kept at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, along with other documents considered sensitive (~233,600 pages).

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Institutional domestic surveillance was founded in 1896 with the National Bureau of Criminal Identification, which evolved by 1908 into the Bureau of Investigation, operated under the authority of the Department of Justice. In 1935, the FBI had grown into an independent agency under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover whose staff, through the use of wire taps, cable taps, mail tampering, garbage filtering and infiltrators, prepared secret FBI Index Lists on more than 10 million Americans by 1939.26

Purported to be chasing ‘communists’ and other alleged subversives, the FBI used public and private pressure to destroy the lives of those it targeted during McCarthyism, including those lives of the Hollywood 10 with the Hollywood blacklist. The FBI’s surveillance and investigation roles expanded in the 1950s while using the collected information to facilitate political assassinations, including the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969. The FBI is also directly connected to the bombings, assassinations, and deaths of other people including Malcolm X in 1963, Viola Liuzzo in 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash in 1976, and Judi Bari in 1990.

As the extent of the FBI’s domestic surveillance continued to grow, many celebrities were also secretly investigated by the bureau, including:

  • First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – A vocal critic of Hoover and likened the FBI to an ‘American Gestapo’ for its Index lists.27 Roosevelt also spoke out against anti-Japanese prejudice during the second world war, and was later a deleagte to the United Nations and instrumental in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 3,000-page FBI dossier on Eleanor Roosevelt reveals Hoover’s close monitoring of her activities and writings, and contains retaliatory charges against her for suspected Communist activities.2829
  • Frank Sinatra – His 1,300 page FBI dossier, dating from 1943, contains allegations about Sinatra’s possible ties to the American Communist Party. The FBI spent several decades tracking Sinatra and his associates.3031
  • Marilyn Monroe – Her FBI dossier begins in 1955 and continues up until the months before her death. It focuses mostly on her travels and associations, searching for signs of leftist views and possible ties to communism.32 Her ex-husband, Arthur Miller, was also monitored. Monroe’s FBI dossier is “heavily censored”, but a “reprocessed” version has been released by the FBI to the public.32
  • John Lennon – In 1971, shortly after Lennon arrived in the United States on a visa to meet up with anti-war activists, the FBI placed Lennon under surveillance, and the U.S. government tried to deport him from the country.33 At that time, opposition to the Vietnam War had reached a peak and Lennon often showed up at political rallies to sing his anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance“.33 The U.S. government argued that Lennon’s 300 page FBI dossier was particularly sensitive because its release may “lead to foreign diplomatic, economic and military retaliation against the United States”,34 and therefore only approved a “heavily censored” version.35
  • The Beatles, of which John Lennon was a member, had a separate FBI dossier.

Mass Surveillance In The United States Mass Surveillance In The United States Mass Surveillance In The United States Some of the greatest historical figures of the 20th century, including several U.S.

citizens, were placed under warrantless surveillance for the purpose of character assassination – a process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, or nation.

Left: Albert Einstein, who supported the anti-war movement and opposed nuclear proliferation, was a member of numerous civil rights groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (See Albert Einstein’s political views). As a result of his political views, Einstein was subjected to telephone tapping, and his mail was searched by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of a secret government campaign that aimed to link him with a Soviet espionage ring in order to first discredit him, and then deport him (unsuccessfully) from the United States.363738

Center: Martin Luther King, Jr., a leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, was the target of an intensive campaign by the FBI to “neutralize” him as an effective civil rights activist.39 A FBI memo recognized King to be the “most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.”,40 and the agency wanted to discredit him by collecting evidence to (unsuccessfully) prove that he had been influenced by communism.40

Right: Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the media in 1971, experienced one of the most spectacular episodes of government surveillance and character assassination. The White House tried to steal his medical records and other possibly detrimental information by sending a special unit to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.4142 These activities were later uncovered during the course of investigation as the Watergate scandal slowly unfolded, which eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.43

See also: The FBI kept a dossier on Albert Einstein (~1,500 pages) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (~17,000 pages). Due to a court order, however, some information has been removed and many other pages will not be released until the year 2027.44

1967 73: The now-defunct Project MINARET was created to spy on U.S. citizens. At the request of the U.S. Army, those who protested against the Vietnam War were put on the NSA’s “watch list”.21

Mass Surveillance In The United States The Church Committee of the United States Senate published the final report on “Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans” in 1976 (PDF, 26.54 MB) Mass Surveillance In The United States From 1940 until his death in 1966, the American business magnate Walt Disney served as a “S.A.C. Contact” (trusted informant) for the U.S. government to weed out communists and dissidents from the entertainment industry, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.45
See also: Hollywood blacklist

Church committee review

1975: The Church Committee of the United States Senate was set up to investigate widespread intelligence abuses by the NSA, CIA and FBI.18 Domestic surveillance, authorizied by the highest executive branch of the federal government, spanned from the FDR Administration to the Presidency of Richard Nixon. The following examples were reported by the Church Committee:

The Final Report (Book II) of the Church Committee revealed the following statistics:

  • Over 26,000 individuals were at one point catalogued on an FBI list of persons to be rounded up in the event of a “national emergency“.46
  • Over 500,000 domestic intelligence files were kept at the FBI headquarters, of which 65,000 of were opened in 1972 alone.46
  • At least 130,000 first class letters were opened and photographed by the FBI from 1940 to 1966.46
  • A quarter of a million first class letters were opened and photographed by the CIA from 1953 to 1973.46
  • Millions of private telegrams sent from, to, or through the United States were obtained by the National Security Agency (NSA), under a secret arrangement with U.S. telegraph companies, from 1947 to 1975.46
  • Over 100,000 Americans have been indexed in U.S. Army intelligence files.46
  • About 300,000 individuals were indexed in a CIA computer system during the course of Operation CHAOS.46
  • Intelligence files on more than 11,000 individuals and groups were created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with tax investigations “done on the basis of political rather than tax criteria”.46

In response to the committee’s findings, the FISA Court was established by the United States Congress to issue surveillance warrants.47 Several decades later in 2013, the presiding judge of the FISA Court, Reggie Walton, told The Washington Post that the court only has a limited ability to supervise the government’s surveillance, and is therefore “forced” to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided by federal agents.48

On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency:

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn t matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss.

That is the abyss from which there is no return.495051


In 1988, an article titled “Somebody’s listening” by Duncan Campbell in the New Statesman, described the signals intelligence gathering activities of a program code-named “ECHELON“.52 The program was engaged by English-speaking World War II Allied powers Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States (collectively known as AUSCANNZUKUS). It was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.53

By the 1990s the ECHELON system was capable of intercepting satellite transmissions, public switched telephone network (PSTN) communications (including most Internet traffic), and transmissions carried by microwave. A detailed description of ECHELON was provided by New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager in his 1996 book “Secret Power”. While the existence of ECHELON was denied by some member governments, a report by a committee of the European Parliament in 2001 confirmed the program’s use and warned Europeans about its reach and effects.54 The European Parliament stated in its report that the term “ECHELON” was used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicated it was a signals intelligence collection system capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally.53

The capabilities of ECHELON were further described by James Bamford in Body of Secrets about the National Security Agency.55 Intelligence monitoring of citizens, and their communications, in the area covered by the AUSCANNZUKUS security agreement have, over the years, caused considerable public concern.5657

NSA key to (Microsoft) Windows: an open question

  • Microsoft operating systems have a backdoor entrance for the National Security Agency, a cryptography expert said Friday, but the software giant denied the report and other experts differed on it.
  • The chief scientist at an Internet security company said Microsoft built in a “key” for the nation’s most powerful intelligence agency to the cryptographic standard used in Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT4 and Windows2000.

CNN, September 199958

Escalation following September 11, 2001 attacks

Further information: NSA warrantless surveillance (2001 07)We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act and to find them before they strike.” President Bush speaking in Congress on September 20, 200159 Mass Surveillance In The United States The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon led to major reforms of U.S. intelligence agencies, and paved the way for the establishment of the Director of National Intelligence position Mass Surveillance In The United States On 1 January 2006, days after The New York Times wrote that “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,60 the President emphasized that “This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America. And I repeat, limited.61

In the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, bulk domestic spying in the United States increased dramatically. The desire to prevent future attacks of this scale led to the passage of the Patriot Act.

Later acts include the Protect America Act (which removes the warrant requirement for government surveillance of foreign targets)62 and the FISA Amendments Act (which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements). In 2002, “Total Information Awareness” was established by the U.S. government in order to “revolutionize the ability of the United States to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists”.63

In 2005, a report about President Bush’s President’s Surveillance Program appeared in the New York Times. According to reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, the actual publication of their report was delayed for a year because “The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article”.60

Also in 2005, the existence of STELLARWIND was revealed by Thomas Tamm. In 2006, Mark Klein revealed the existence of Room 641A that he had wired back in 2003.64 In 2008, Babak Pasdar, a computer security expert, and CEO of Bat Blue publicly revealed the existence of the “Quantico circuit”, that he and his team found in 2003. He described it as a back door to the federal government in the systems of an unnamed wireless provider; the company was later independently identified as Verizon.65

You Are a Suspect

  • Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as a virtual, centralized grand database. To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver’s license and toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a Total Information Awareness about every U.S.


  • This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks.”.

The New York Times, November 200266 Trading on the Future of Terror

  • The war on terrorism has come to this: The Pentagon is setting up a commodity-style market to use real investors — putting down real money — to help its generals predict terrorist attacks, coups d’etat and other turmoil in the Middle East.
  • “Two angry senators disclosed the program, called the Policy Analysis Market, in hopes of heading off the registration of investors, set to begin Friday. Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota said more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds has already been spent to develop the project, and the Pentagon has requested $8 million over the next two years. Trading would begin Oct.


  • “Can you imagine if another country set up a betting parlor so that people could … bet on the assassination of an American political figure?” Dorgan asked. It is, he said, “unbelievably stupid.”
  • Poindexter and other senior DARPA officials could not be reached for comment. But in a statement, DARPA said it “is exploring new ways to help analysts predict and thereby prevent terrorist attacks through the use of futures market mechanisms. Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information.””.

The Los Angeles Times, July 200367

The NSA’s database of American’s phone calls was made public in 2006 by USA Today journalist Leslie Cauley in an article titled, “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls.”68 The article cites anonymous sources that described the program’s reach on American citizens: “…it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made across town or across the country to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept.

11 terrorist attacks.” The report failed to generate discussion of privacy rights in the media and was not referenced by Greenwald or the Washington Post in any of their reporting. In 2009, The New York Times cited several anonymous intelligence officials alleging that “the N.S.A. made Americans targets in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism” and “the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant”.69

Acceleration of media leaks (2010 present)

On 15 March 2012, the American magazine Wired published an article with the headline “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”,70 which was later mentioned by U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson during a congressional hearing. In response to Johnson’s inquiry, NSA director Keith B.

Alexander testified that these allegations made by Wired magazine were untrue:

NSA Director Keith Alexander‘s testimony to the United States Congress on 20 March 201271

Representative Johnson: “The author of the Wired magazine article, his name is James Bashford, sic he writes that NSA has software that searches U.S. sources for target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers as well as watchlisted names, keywords, and phrases in email. Any communication that arouses suspicion, especially those to or from the million or so people on the agency watchlists are automatically copied or recorded and then transmitted to the NSA. Is this true?”

General Alexander: “No, it’s not. And that’s from James Bashford? sic”
Rep. Johnson: “Yes.

Does the NSA routinely intercept American citizens emails?”
Gen. Alexander: “No.
Rep. Johnson: “Does the NSA intercept Americans cell phone conversations?”
Gen. Alexander: “No.”
Rep. Johnson: “Google searches?”
Gen. Alexander: “No.”
Rep. Johnson: “Text messages?”
Gen. Alexander: “No.”
Rep. Johnson: “ orders?”

Alexander: “No.”
Rep. Johnson: “Bank records?”
Gen. Alexander: “No.”71

2013 mass surveillance disclosures

Main article: 2013 mass surveillance disclosures

On 6 June 2013, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper began publishing a series of revelations by an unnamed American whistleblower, revealed several days later to be former CIA and NSA-contracted systems analyst Edward Snowden. Snowden gave a cache of internal documents in support of his claims to two journalists: Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, Greenwald later estimated that the cache contains 15,000 20,000 documents, some very large and very detailed, and some very small.7273 This was one of the largest news leaks in the modern history of the United States.74 In over two months of publications, it became clear that the NSA operates a complex web of spying programs which allow it to intercept internet and telephone conversations from over a billion users from dozens of countries around the world. Specific revelations have been made about China, the European Union, Latin America, Iran and Pakistan, and Australia and New Zealand, however the published documentation reveals that many of the programs indiscriminately collect bulk information directly from central servers and internet backbones, which almost invariably carry and reroute information from distant countries. Due to this central server and backbone monitoring, many of the programs overlap and interrelate among one another. These programs are often done with the assistance of US entities such as the United States Department of Justice and the FBI,75 are sanctioned by US laws such as the FISA Amendments Act, and the necessary court orders for them are signed by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

In addition to this, many of the NSA’s programs are directly aided by national and foreign intelligence services, Britain’s GCHQ and Australia’s DSD, as well as by large private telecommunications and internet corporations, such as Verizon, Telstra,76Google and Facebook.77

On 9 June 2013, Edward Snowden told The Guardian:

They (the NSA) can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer”

Edward Snowden78

The US government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised: Hepting v. AT&T, Jewel v. NSA, Clapper v. Amnesty International, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama and Center for Constitutional Rights v. Obama. The government has also granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.7980

The US district court judge for the District of Columbia, Richard Leon, declared818283848586 on December 16, 2013 that the mass collection of metadata of Americans telephone records by the National Security Agency probably violates the fourth amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.87 Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism. 88 Plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of showing that their privacy interests outweigh the government s interest in collecting and analysing bulk telephony metadata and therefore the NSA s bulk collection program is indeed an unreasonable search under the fourth amendment, he wrote.88

“The Fourth Amendment typically requires ‘a neutral and detached authority be interposed between the police and the public,’ and it is offended by ‘general warrants’ and laws that allow searches to be conducted ‘indiscriminately and without regard to their connections with a crime under investigation,'” he wrote.89 He added: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”89

Leon granted the request for a preliminary injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for two private plaintiffs (Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer, and Charles Strange, father of a cryptologist killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011)88 and ordered the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered.

But the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues. 87

H.R.4681 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015

On 20 May 2014, U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 8th congressional district Republican congressman Mike Rogers introduced Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 with the goal of authorizing appropriations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes. Some of its measures cover the limitation on retention.–A covered communication (meaning any nonpublic telephone or electronic communication acquired without the consent of a person who is a party to the communication, including communications in electronic storage) shall not be retained in excess of 5 years, unless:(i) the communication has been affirmatively determined, in whole or in part, to constitute foreign intelligence or counterintelligence or is necessary to understand or assess foreign intelligence or counterintelligence; (ii) the communication is reasonably believed to constitute evidence of a crime and is retained by a law enforcement agency; (iii) the communication is enciphered or reasonably believed to have a secret meaning; (iv) all parties to the communication are reasonably believed to be non-United States persons; (v) retention is necessary to protect against an imminent threat to human life, in which case both the nature of the threat and the information to be retained shall be reported to the congressional intelligence committees not later than 30 days after the date such retention is extended under this clause; (vi) retention is necessary for technical assurance or compliance purposes, including a court order or discovery obligation, in which case access to information retained for technical assurance or compliance purposes shall be reported to the congressional intelligence committees on an annual basis; or (vi) retention is necessary for technical assurance or compliance purposes, including a court order or discovery obligation, in which case access to information retained for technical assurance or compliance purposes shall be reported to the congressional intelligence committees on an annual basis; or (vii) retention for a period in excess of 5 years is approved by the head of the element of the intelligence community responsible for such retention, based on a determination that retention is necessary to protect the national security of the United States, in which case the head of such element shall provide to the congressional intelligence committees a written certification describing– (I) the reasons extended retention is necessary to protect the national security of the United States; (II) the duration for which the head of the element is authorizing retention; (III) the particular information to be retained; and (IV) the measures the element of the intelligence community is taking to protect the privacy interests of United States persons or persons located inside the United States.90

On 10 December 2014, Republican U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 3rd congressional district member of Congress Justin Amash criticized the act on his Facebook as being “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative” and “It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.”.91

On 11 December 2014, a petition was created on We the People section of the website petitioning the Obama administration to veto the law.

USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom Act was signed into law on June 2, 2015, the day after certain provisions of the Patriot Act had expired. It mandated an end to bulk collection of phone call metadata by the NSA within 180 days, but allowed continued mandatory retention of metadata by phone companies with access by the government with case-by-case approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.92

Modalities, concepts, and methods

Mass Surveillance In The United States Official seal of the Information Awareness Office — a U.S. agency which developed technologies for mass surveillance

Logging postal mail

Main article: Mail Isolation Control and Tracking

Under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, the U.S. Postal Service photographs the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States about 160 billion pieces in 2012. The U.S. Postmaster General stated that the system is primarily used for mail sorting, but the images are available for possible use by law enforcement agencies.93 Created in 2001 following the anthrax attacks that killed five people, it is a sweeping expansion of a 100-year-old program called “mail cover” which targets people suspected of crimes. Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency gives to telephone calls, e-mail, and other forms of electronic communication.94

Mail cover surveillance requests are granted for about 30 days, and can be extended for up to 120 days. Images captured under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program are retained for a week to 30 days and then destroyed.93 There are two kinds of mail covers: those related to criminal activity and those requested to protect national security. Criminal activity requests average 15,000 to 20,000 per year, while the number of requests for national security mail covers has not been made public.

Neither the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program nor the mail cover program require prior approval by a judge. For both programs the information gathered is metadata from the outside of the envelope or package for which courts have said there is no expectation of privacy. Opening the mail to view its contents would require a warrant approved by a judge.94


Billions of dollars per year are spent, by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore, ECHELON, and NarusInsight to intercept and analyze the immense amount of data that traverses the Internet and telephone system every day.95

The Total Information Awareness program, of the Information Awareness Office, designed numerous technologies to be used to perform mass surveillance. Examples include advanced speech-to-text programs (so that phone conversations can be monitored en-masse by a computer, instead of requiring human operators to listen to them), social network analysis software to monitor groups of people and their interactions with each other, and “Human identification at a distance” software which allows computers to identify people on surveillance cameras by their facial features and gait (the way they walk). The program was later renamed “Terrorism Information Awareness“, after a negative public reaction.

Legal foundations

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), passed in 1974, requires that all U.S. telecommunications companies modify their equipment to allow easy wiretapping of telephone, VoIP, and broadband internet traffic.969798

In 1999 two models of mandatory data retention were suggested for the US. The first model would record the IP address assigned to a customer at a specific time. In the second model, “which is closer to what Europe adopted”, telephone numbers dialed, contents of Web pages visited, and recipients of e-mail messages must be retained by the ISP for an unspecified amount of time.99100 In 2006 the International Association of Chiefs of Police adopted a resolution calling for a “uniform data retention mandate” for “customer subscriber information and source and destination information.”101 The U.S.

Department of Justice announced in 2011 that criminal investigations “are being frustrated” because no law currently exists to force Internet providers to keep track of what their customers are doing.102

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an ongoing lawsuit (Hepting v. AT&T) against the telecom giant AT&T Inc. for its assistance to the U.S. government in monitoring the communications of millions of American citizens. It has managed thus far to keep the proceedings open. Recently the documents, which were exposed by a whistleblower who had previously worked for AT&T, and showed schematics of the massive data mining system, were made public.103104

Internet communications

The FBI developed the computer programs “Magic Lantern” and CIPAV, which it can remotely install on a computer system, in order to monitor a person’s computer activity.105

The NSA has been gathering information on financial records, internet surfing habits, and monitoring e-mails. It has also performed extensive surveillance on social networks such as Facebook.106 Recently, Facebook has revealed that, in the last six months of 2012, they handed over the private data of between 18,000 and 19,000 users to law enforcement of all types including local police and federal agencies, such as the FBI, Federal Marshals and the NSA.107 One form of wiretapping utilized by the NSA is RADON, a bi-directional host tap that can inject Ethernet packets onto the same target. It allows bi-directional exploitation of Denied networks using standard on-net tools. The one limitation of RADON is that it is a USB device that requires a physical connection to a laptop or PC to work.

RADON was created by a Massachusetts firm called Netragard. Their founder, Adriel Desautels, said about RADON, it is our safe malware. RADON is designed to enable us to infect customer systems in a safe and controllable manner. Safe means that every strand is built with an expiration date that, when reached, results in RADON performing an automatic and clean self-removal.

Intelligence apparatus to monitor Americans

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a vast domestic intelligence apparatus has been built to collect information using FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. The intelligence apparatus collects, analyzes and stores information about millions of (if not all) American citizens, most of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Every state and local law enforcement agency is to feed information to federal authorities to support the work of the FBI.108

The PRISM special source operation system was enabled by the Protect America Act of 2007 under President Bush and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which legally immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with US intelligence collection and was renewed by Congress under President Obama in 2012 for five years until December 2017. According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S.

PRISM was first publicly revealed on 6 June 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by Edward Snowden.


In early 2006, USA Today reported that several major telephone companies were cooperating illegally with the National Security Agency to monitor the phone records of U.S. citizens, and storing them in a large database known as the NSA call database. This report came on the heels of allegations that the U.S. government had been conducting electronic surveillance of domestic telephone calls without warrants.109

Law enforcement and intelligence services in the United States possess technology to remotely activate the microphones in cell phones in order to listen to conversations that take place nearby the person who holds the phone.110111112

U.S. federal agents regularly use mobile phones to collect location data. The geographical location of a mobile phone (and thus the person carrying it) can be determined easily (whether it is being used or not), using a technique known multilateration to calculate the differences in time for a signal to travel from the cell phone to each of several cell towers near the owner of the phone.113114

In 2013, the existence of the Hemisphere Project, through which AT&T provides call detail records to government agencies, became publicly known.

Infiltration of smartphones

As worldwide sales of smartphones began exceeding those of feature phones, the NSA decided to take advantage of the smartphone boom. This is particularly advantageous because the smartphone combines a myriad of data that would interest an intelligence agency, such as social contacts, user behavior, interests, location, photos and credit card numbers and passwords.115

An internal NSA report from 2010 stated that the spread of the smartphone has been occurring “extremely rapidly” developments that “certainly complicate traditional target analysis.”115 According to the document, the NSA has set up task forces assigned to several smartphone manufacturers and operating systems, including Apple Inc.‘s iPhone and iOS operating system, as well as Google‘s Android mobile operating system.115 Similarly, Britain’s GCHQ assigned a team to study and crack the BlackBerry.115

Under the heading “iPhone capability”, the document notes that there are smaller NSA programs, known as “scripts”, that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iPhone 3 and iPhone 4 operating systems. These include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo! Messenger.115

In July 2013, Google confirmed that it had inserted NSA’s Security Enhancements for Android (containing NSA’s Security-Enhanced Linux117 that is “generally accepted as being a great addition that makes a secure operating system even more safe”118) source code into its Android 4.2 operating system.119 Newer devices such as the Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, and Samsung Galaxy S4, all contain it “buried in Google s latest release”.119

Data mining of subpoenaed records

See also: Data mining, Information extraction, and Predictive analytics

The FBI collected nearly all hotel, airline, rental car, gift shop, and casino records in Las Vegas during the last two weeks of 2003. The FBI requested all electronic data of hundreds of thousands of people based on a very general lead for the Las Vegas New Year’s celebration. The Senior VP of The Mirage went on record with PBSFrontline describing the first time they were requested to help in the mass collection of personal information.120

Surveillance cameras

Wide Area Persistent Surveillance (also Wide Area Motion Imaging) is a form of airborne surveillance system that collects pattern-of-life data by recording motion images of an area larger than a city – in sub-meter resolution. This video allows for anyone within the field of regard to be tracked – both live and retroactively, for forensic analysis. The use of sophisticated tracking algorithms applied to the WAMI dataset also enables mass automated geo-location tracking of every vehicle and pedestrian.121 WAMI sensors are typically mounted on manned airplanes, drones, blimps and aerostats. WAMI is currently in use on the souther border of the USA and has been deployed in Baltimore,122 Dayton Ohio as well as in Los Angeles, specifically targeting Compton. Wide Area Persistent Surveillance systems such as ARGUS WAMI are capable of live viewing and recording a 68< square mile area with enough detail to view pedestrians and vehicles and generate chronographs123 These WAMI cameras, such as Gorgon Stare, Angelfire, Hiper Stare, Hawkeye and ARGUS,124 create airborne video so detailed that pedestrians can be followed across the city through forensic analysis.

This allows investigators to rewind and playback the movements of anyone within this 68 square mile area for hours, days or even months at a time depending on the airframe the WAMI sensors are mounted on. JLENS, a surveillance aerostat scheduled for deployment over the east coast of the USA, is a form of WAMI that uses sophisticated radar imaging along with electro-optical WAMI sensors to enable mass geo-location tracking of ground vehicles. While a resistance to the domestic deployment of WAMI has emerged in areas where the public has learned of the technologies use, the deployments have been intentionally hidden from the public, as in Compton California, where the mayor learned about the surveillance125 from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union,126 Teame Zazzu121 and the Center for Investigative Reporting. PeSEAS127 and PerMIATE128 software automate and record the movement observed in the WAMI video.129 This technology uses software to track and record the movements of pedestrians and vehicles using automatic object recognition software across the entire frame, generating “tracklets” or chronographs of every car and pedestrian movements.

24/7 deployment of this technology has been suggested by the DHS on spy blimps such as the recently killed Blue Devil Airship.130

Traffic cameras, which were meant to help enforce traffic laws at intersections, have also sparked some controversy, due to their use by law enforcement agencies for purposes unrelated to traffic violations.131 These cameras also work as transit choke-points that allow individuals inside the vehicle to be positively identified and license plate data to be collected and time stamped for cross reference with airborne WAMI such as ARGUS and HAWKEYE used by police and Law Enforcement.132

The Department of Homeland Security is funding networks of surveillance cameras in cities and towns as part of its efforts to combat terrorism.133 In February 2009, Cambridge, MA rejected the cameras due to privacy concerns.134

Surveillance drones

On 19 June 2013, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary that the federal government had been employing surveillance drones on U.S. soil in “particular incidents”.135 According to Mueller, the FBI is currently in the initial stage of developing drone policies.135

Earlier in 2012, Congress passed a US$63 billion bill that will grant four years of additional funding to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Under the bill, the FAA is required to provide military and commercial drones with expanded access to U.S. airspace by October 2015.136

In February 2013, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department explained that these drones would initially be deployed in large public gatherings, including major protests. Over time, tiny drones would be used to fly inside buildings to track down suspects and assist in investigations.137 According to The Los Angeles Times, the main advantage of using drones is that they offer “unblinking eye-in-the-sky coverage”. They can be modified to carry high-resolution video cameras, infrared sensors, license plate readers, listening devices, and be disguised as sea gulls or other birds to mask themselves.137

By 2020, about 30,000 unmanned drones are expected to be deployed in the United States for the purpose of surveillance and law enforcement.138

Infiltration of activist groups

In 2003, consent decrees against surveillance around the country were lifted, with the assistance of the Justice Department.139

The New York City Police Department infiltrated and compiled dossiers on protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention, leading to over 1,800 arrests and subsequent fingerprinting.140

In 2008, Maryland State Police infiltrated local peace groups.141

In 2013, a Washington, D.C. undercover cop infiltrated peace groups.142

International cooperation

Mass Surveillance In The United States The “five eyes” of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States

During World War II, the BRUSA Agreement was signed by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom for the purpose of intelligence sharing. This was later formalized in the UKUSA Agreement of 1946 as a secret treaty. The full text of the agreement was released to the public on 25 June 2010.143

Although the treaty was later revised to include other countries such as Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Turkey, and the Philippines,143 most of the information sharing is performed by the so-called “Five Eyes”,144 a term referring to the following English-speaking western democracies and their respective intelligence agencies:

In 2013, media disclosures revealed how other government agencies have cooperated extensively with the “Five Eyes“:

Mass Surveillance In The United States Top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the “Five Eyes” have gained access to the majority of internet and telephone communications flowing throughout Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world.
Left: SEA-ME-WE 3, which runs across the Afro-Eurasian supercontinent from Japan to Northern Germany, is one of the most important submarine cables accessed by the “Five Eyes”. Singapore, a former British colony in the Asia-Pacific region (blue dot), plays a vital role in intercepting internet and telecommunications traffic heading from Australia/Japan to Europe, and vice versa. An intelligence sharing agreement between Singapore and Australia allows the rest of the “Five Eyes” to gain access to SEA-ME-WE 3.152
Right:TAT-14, a telecommunications cable linking Europe with the United States, was identified as one of few assets of “Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources” of the USA on foreign territory.

In 2013, it was revealed that British officials “pressured a handful of telecommunications and internet companies” to allow the British government to gain access to TAT-14.155

Aside from the “Five Eyes”, most other Western countries are also participating in the NSA surveillance system and sharing information with each other.156 However, being a partner of the NSA does not automatically exempt a country from being targeted by the NSA. According to an internal NSA document leaked by Snowden, “We (the NSA) can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners.”157

Examples of members of the “Five Eyes” spying for each other:

Uses of intercepted data

Most of the NSA’s collected data which was seen by human eyes (i.e., used by NSA operatives) was used in accordance with the stated objective of combating terrorism.160161162

Other than to combat terrorism, these surveillance programs have been employed to assess the foreign policy and economic stability of other countries.163

According to reports by Brazil’s O Globo newspaper, the collected data was also used to target “commercial secrets”.164 In a statement addressed to the National Congress of Brazil, journalist Glenn Greenwald testified that the U.S. government uses counter-terrorism as a “pretext” for clandestine surveillance in order to compete with other countries in the “business, industrial and economic fields”.165166167

In an interview with Der Spiegel published on 12 August 2013, former NSA Director Michael Hayden admitted that “We the NSA steal secrets. We’re number one in it”. Hayden also added that “We steal stuff to make you safe, not to make you rich”.163

According to documents seen by the news agency Reuters, information obtained in this way is subsequently funnelled to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.168 Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail in order to “cover up” where the information originated,168 known as parallel construction. (Were the true origins known, the evidence and resulting case might be invalidated as “fruit of the poisonous tree“, a legal doctrine designed to deter abuse of power that prevents evidence or subsequent events being used in a case if they resulted from a search or other process that does not conform to legal requirements.)

According to NSA Chief Compliance Officer John DeLong, most violations of the NSA’s rules were self-reported, and most often involved spying on personal love interests using surveillance technology of the agency.169

See also


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External links

Intelligence agencies and organizations of the United States Intelligence
Department of Defense

Armed Forces


Mass Surveillance In The United States Other


Mass Surveillance In The United States Retrieved from “

Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime …

Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime Prevention Tool? Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime ...

Public Video Surveillance:

Is It An Effective Crime Prevention Tool?

By Marcus Nieto

June 1997 CRB-97-005

This report examines the various uses of video surveillance and other visual technology by public and private entities to prevent and discourage crime, including law enforcement practices, the conditions which may warrant public video surveillance, the associated legal and constitutional implications, and whether the technology has been effective in preventing crime.


1 Historical Overview
2 Important Legal Issues

Silent Video Surveillance
Fourth Amendment Implications
Chilling Effect
Potential Tort Liability Under California Law4567

International Development

United Kingdom CCTV Video Surveillance System Operations
Civil Liberty Conerns
Public Video Surveillance In Other Countries91011

Contemporary Use In the United States

Commercial and Private Usage
State and Local Law Enforcement
Initial Pilot Projects15

Potential Pairing With Other New Technologies
Public Video Surveillance in U.S. Cities
Selected Other Cities

Future Plans of California Cities19

Public Housing, Transit Authorities and Schools

Public Housing CCTV Video Surveillance Programs21 Public Transit22 School Districts23


Legislative and Administrative Options


26 “Welcome! Surveillance cameras and music are for your enjoyment,” is the greeting pedestrians receive upon entering the underpass under I-5 between “Old Town” Sacramento and the downtown area. For over 20 years, businesses, individuals and commercial and residential associations have embraced video surveillance technology as a means to protect residential privacy and property against intrusion and other forms of crime. During the last decade, law enforcement agencies in Great Britain, France, Monaco, Spain and other countries have increasingly relied on Close Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance to enhance public security. According to the survey presented in this report, an increasing number of U.S.

municipalities (mostly outside California) have begun using CCTV public video surveillance as a law enforcement tool to monitor public areas, schools, and residential districts. CCTV video surveillance systems can either passively record and play back video at certain intervals, be actively monitored by security personnel, or use a combination of these methods. Law enforcement personnel actively monitor most U.S. municipal-operated systems, although volunteers and private security are also involved in some projects. School-based CCTV surveillance systems employ active, passive, and combined monitoring methods, depending on the financial resources and number and type of personnel available. This report examines the various uses of video surveillance and other visual technology by public and private entities to prevent and discourage crime, including law enforcement practices, the conditions which many warrant public video surveillance, the associated legal and constitutional implications, and whether the technology has been effective in preventing crime. Use of other new and innovative technologies, such as computerized mapping for crime control and non metallic weapon surveillance, show potential for targeting public video surveillance activities. In addition, the report considers the role that public video surveillance might play within the context of community policing and other elements of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Generally, the data suggest that CCTV video surveillance is successful in reducing and preventing crimes and is helpful in prosecuting individuals caught in the act of committing a crime. In addition, there may be public law enforcement cost savings.

Critics argue that public video surveillance conflicts with the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. These concerns and other related issues are discussed in this paper. 27

The Evolution of U.S. Military and Civilian Intelligence Operations and Public Safety The Civil War marked the first American use of systematic military intelligence collection methods such as aerial reconnaissance, signal intercepts, and the establishment of intelligence as a distinct organizational unit within the army. However, these techniques and organizations were soon forgotten after the cessation of hostilities, and a permanent intelligence unit was not established by the United States military until the turn of the century.1 By the beginning of America’s entry into World War I in 1917, American intelligence gathering had grown dramatically. A new Military Intelligence Section was created within the U.S. War College, modeled after the British Secret Intelligence Service. The intelligence unit promoted new concepts such as “espionage and counterespionage,” or what was called positive and negative intelligence (collecting intelligence about the enemy and denying the enemy intelligence about oneself). Before the end of World War I, this unit would transform itself into a new civilian counterespionage organization (the Federal Bureau of Investigation ) with ties to the US Justice Department, Secret Service Department, and State Department.

In November of 1919, the new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began a nationwide surveillance and dragnet against suspected communists and anarchists, known as the Palmer Raids. By January 20, 1920, some 4,000 people in 33 cities had been arrested, of whom 600 were eventually deported. These activities resulted in the arrest of several thousand innocent people.2

In 1938, the FBI was reorganized under J. Edgar Hoover and given the responsibility to enforce criminal investigations and espionage laws. President Roosevelt authorized the FBI to investigate all subversive activities carried on by communists, fascists, and other agents of foreign governments within the U.S.

With the approach of World War II, the FBI’s investigation of espionage cases jumped dramatically from an average of 35 per year during 1933-37, to 634 in 1938. The FBI’s surveillance workload during World War II was enormous: over 1 million registered “enemy” aliens were living in the U.S.; many were nationals from Axis power nations awaiting citizenship. At the conclusion of World War II, the need for extraordinary national security surveillance measures decreased. However, concerns about communists and their associates increased during the 1950s, leading to widespread use of wiretapping by law enforcement. In the 1960s, Congressional proposals to regulate and clarify wiretapping for a national security mission applied to investigating organized crime. The Kennedy administration endorsed legislative proposals for a wiretapping law authorizing federal agencies to wiretap in cases involving national security, organized crime, and other serious crimes. State wiretapping, except in certain cases involving serious crimes, was not allowed.3 In 1968, Congress passed the first major electronic surveillance law (Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control And Safe Streets Act of 1968). The purpose of the law was to define the proper use of electronic surveillance.

Congress sought to balance the privacy interests of the individual with the legitimate law enforcement and intelligence needs of the state.4 Title III did not specifically address video surveillance. However, in United States vs. Torres, 751 F.

2nd 875, 876 (7th Circuit, 1984) challenging the legality of video surveillance, the Circuit Court found that although Title III did not include video surveillance, its principles could be adapted to determine if evidence obtained by that method had been obtained legally.5 In 1986, Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which allowed law enforcement to use rapidly expanding technologies such as video surveillance. The law sought to balance an individual’s right to privacy with law enforcement’s need to collect information for public safety. The New York Trade Center bombing is a recent example applying the 1986 Act. A key confidant of the defendant became a government witness. As a result, the FBI was able to conduct extensive video surveillance (April to June of 1993) of the defendant at his home, collecting the evidence that was used to convict him.6

In the opinion of most legal scholars, the continuous video surveillance of public areas does not present significant legal obstacles. Although no court has directly addressed this issue, under current interpretations of the First and Fourth Amendment and California tort law, video surveillance appears to represent a valid use of the state’s power to protect its citizens. In this view, continuous video surveillance is analogous to a mechanical police officer. It does not intrude upon an individual’s sphere of privacy, but rather records events occurring in public space for which individuals do not have reasonable expectations of privacy.729

Title I of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (18 U.S.C. Section 2510), limits the ability of law enforcement to execute wiretaps. Under Title 1, police departments must obtain warrants prior to secretly intercepting some communications.

In contrast, silent video surveillance (involving no recording of sounds) on public streets does not have to comport with Title 1 because the Act concerns itself only with devices which capture audio signals.8 The U.S. Senate report on the Act noted that: If law enforcement officials were to install their own cameras and create their own CCTV picture of a meeting, the capturing of the video image would not be an interception under the statute because there would be no interception of the contents of an electronic communication.”9

Title 1 limits video surveillance with audio capabilities;10 it covers orders “authorizing or approving the interception of a wire or oral communication.” (The U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. vs. New York Telephone Company, 434 U.S.

159 (1977), recognized that all audio surveillance falls within the ambit of Title III, the predecessor statute to Title I. The Court, in holding that pen registers do not implicate Title III, stated pen registers “do not hear sound…They do not accomplish the ‘aural acquisition’ of anything and they present the information in a form to be interpreted by sight rather than by hearing.” In contrast, a device with audio capabilities falls within the guidelines established by Title I.) Thus, any continuous video surveillance that also has an audio component must comport with Title I. If a continuous video surveillance device can intercept sound, and the surveillance constitutes a search, the police must first obtain a warrant prior to the installation of the device. 30

The U.S. Supreme Court in Katz vs. United States 389 U.S.

347 (1967), defined modern “search and seizure” law under the Fourth Amendment.11 The Court declared that “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection, but what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected. Generally, a person walking along a public sidewalk or standing in a public park cannot reasonably expect that his activity will be immune from the public eye or from observation by the police.12 As recognized by the Supreme Court in United States vs. Knotts 368 U.S.

276, 281-82 (1983):

A person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another. When an individual traveled over the public streets he voluntarily conveyed to anyone who wanted to look the fact that he was traveling over particular roads in a particular direction, and the fact of his final destination when he exited from public roads onto private property.13

Following this reasoning courts, for the most part, have allowed police to videotape individuals on public roads.14 Transactions in plain view in a public forum generally do not raise Fourth Amendment issues. This is known as the plain view rule and open field doctrine. If a person does something illegal in plain view (e.g. in front of a video camera), an officer would not need a warrant to search that person to find the incriminating evidence. Court decisions interpreting and applying the Fourth Amendment do not classify this situation as a person, house, paper, or effects that are protected against unreasonable search and seizures.15 In a recent unpublished opinion, United States vs.

Sherman, 990 F.

2d 1265 (9th Cir.

1993), the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that individuals videotaped in public view have no reasonable expectations of privacy, and could not challenge the government’s use of videotape at trial as violating the Fourth Amendment.16 When this test is applied to video surveillance of public streets, the prevailing legal view is that it does not violate the Fourth Amendment. In contrast, surveillance by the government of activities occurring within an individual’s house may violate the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court has developed a test to determine if such surveillance violates the Constitution:

1. Does the surveillance occur from publicly navigable airspace?

2. Is the surveillance conducted in a physically non-intrusive manner?17

No cases have been adjudicated under the Fourth Amendment testing the use of rotating video surveillance cameras in a public setting. If a video camera monitored by police has an infrared filtering device with the capability to view activities that a reasonable person might expect to not be visible from public view, Fourth Amendment concerns might arise. 31

Some commentators have argued that public video surveillance has a “chilling effect” on First Amendment rights. Most federal appeals courts have required proof of actual mental anguish or distress as a result of the surveillance before finding First Amendment violations.18 Several courts have recognized video surveillance as one of the most mentally disconcerting forms of monitoring performed by government.19 For example, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court noted that “this type of surveillance provokes an immediate negative visceral reaction: indiscriminate video surveillance raises the specter of the Owellian State.”20

However, since police officers already patrol the streets, it seems unlikely that a court would consider a video camera which “observes” the same public area as harming an individual.21 The protection of individuals from crime is a paramount concern of the state, and legislatures have broad powers to protect communities from such harm.2232

Legal analysis suggests that public video surveillance probably does not give rise to a cause of action for the invasion of an individual’s privacy under current California law. California courts have been reluctant to expand tort liability to cover an individual who knowingly exposes himself to the public view.23 A California court held in Aisensio vs. American Broadcasting Co., Inc., 220 Cal. App.

3rd 146 (2nd Dist.

1990), that the videotaping of an individual on a public street does not constitute an unreasonable intrusion into that person’s solitude.24 The Aisenson court further noted that video cameras with sensory enhanced devices (zoom lenses for example) do not give rise to tort action if the use of video taping occurs in a public forum, such as a city street. Since the cameras do not physically intrude into a person’s sphere of privacy, any invasion of privacy is minimal. Thus, it would appear that since public video surveillance occurs in a public forum (such as a city street) and because the surveillance is physically non-intrusive, tort liability is precluded under current California tort law.

In summary, past Supreme Court and lower court decisions strongly suggest that within certain limitations, continuous video surveillance is a valid exercise of a state’s police powers. 33

Many European countries now employ public video surveillance as a primary tool to monitor population movements and to prevent terrorism. The United Kingdom (UK) in particular relies extensively on video surveillance as a tool to fight crime and prevent terrorism. According to some researchers, the camera surveillance systems in the UK are discouraging and thus preventing crime. Public video surveillance in the UK began very unassumingly in 1986, on a single square mile industrial estate outside the English town of King’s Lynn. Three CCTV video surveillance cameras were used and their impact was immediate. In the years before the cameras were installed, there had been 58 crimes (mostly vandalism) recorded on the estate. In the two years following the installation, there were no crimes reported. Subsequently, cities and towns across Great Britain began using this crime prevention measure. By 1994, over 300 jurisdictions in the country had installed some form of public video surveillance.

In 1995, the national government made available up to $3.1 million in matching grants available to cities and towns to establish CCTV video surveillance programs. According to the police superintendent of a large metropolitan area, “public video surveillance has been very helpful in making arrests, and perhaps more important, helping to allocate resources to where they’re most necessary.” Although most municipal systems have been operational since 1990, there is little longitudinal data indicating how effective CCTV surveillance systems actually have been in reducing crime rates. Recent British government reports cite CCTV surveillance as a major reason for declining crime rates: in the small town of Berwick burglaries fell by 69 percent; in Northhampton overall crime decreased by 57 percent; and in Glasgow, Scotland crime decreased by 68 percent.25

In Liverpool, crimes such as shoplifting, prostitution, graffiti, and other nonviolent crimes have decreased by 25 percent over the last 3 years. The city has installed one of the largest CCTV surveillance systems is Great Britain. Liverpool residents report that they feel safer downtown, even at night.26 There is anecdotal information that in the face of videotape evidence, a higher percentage of those charged with crimes plead guilty. There are currently nearly 800 local public video surveillance programs in operation in the UK. The British government provides $22 million annually in matching grants. Reports suggest that most people in Britain are aware of public video surveillance. According to one English newspaper, if a person goes shopping, takes a train, buys gasoline, visits a post office, bank, or building, attends a soccer game, or just strolls down the street, chances are that person’s image will be recorded on several videotapes.27 People apparently notice the cameras but do not appear to be concerned about them. One recent study conducted by a British research firm found surprising support among citizens for CCTV video surveillance (see Chart 1).

Chart 1

Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime ...

However, not all commentators are as sanguine.

One researcher recently stated that United Kingdom streets now resemble Orwell’s 1984, and that the public should be howling against these “electronic stasi” proliferating like poison ivy across the buildings and streets.28 Advocates of CCTV video surveillance emphasize the technology’s value in quickly apprehending criminals. Two recent well publicized events confirm this point. In mid-February 1996, the UK media broadcast a harrowing set of pictures taken in a shopping centre in Bootle, near Liverpool, and outside a builder’s yard less than a mile away. They showed the grainy images of a small child being led away by two youths. Two-year old James Bulger, who had wandered from his mother’s side in the shopping centre, was later found murdered. The second case involved a terrorist bombing. Video images of two men recorded on security cameras at Harrods and Victoria Station before a bomb exploded were shown on television. In both cases, arrests followed shortly after the images were broadcast to the public.29

CCTV surveillance is also helping UK officials to clean up the country’s tarred international soccer image.

At the recent Euro ’96 soccer championships, up to 50 British soccer hooligans who had disrupted games in previous soccer matches were barred from attending the championship matches after being identified by video surveillance cameras. 34 Most CCTV surveillance system in the UK are jointly operated and managed by law enforcement and the private sector. Typically CCTV surveillance systems are installed by British Telecom, using fiber-optic cables in strategically positioned downtown business districts or in new shopping centers. Additionally, some townships are beginning to install videotelephony, a new technology which allows transmission of video images from a monitoring site to another location via telephone lines. This allows law enforcement quick and easy remote access to the video images. Generally, the cameras are perched atop 20-foot poles or 4-6 story buildings at intervals next to an area that is to be watched. Most systems are actively monitored by a single operator, or in some cases multiple operators, in continuous 8 hour shifts. Pictures from all cameras are visually recorded by time-lapse recorders which take one frame from each of a group of cameras in turn. If an operator sees anything suspicious, a camera can be switched to continuous recording, thereby capturing the action in more detail.

Nearly all video surveillance systems are linked to police stations. They may also be monitored by private security guards at a centrally located area within the boundaries of the surveillance area. Should a private security guard notice an illegal act taking place, he or she can instantly send the image to local police monitors so the police can observe the crime and dispatch officers. 35

According to English civil libertarians, there is no control in the UK over the commercial use of public video images recorded by CCTV. Since the country has more video surveillance per capita than any other country in the world, it is relatively easy to find footage from parking garages, housing developments, department stores and offices that may have commercial value. Cameras may record couples intertwined in office stockrooms, elevators or cars; women undressing in department store changing rooms; or husband and wives engaging in domestic squabbles. Such scenes are sold commercially in UK video stores. One video, entitled “Really Caught in the Act,” has prompted modest outrage in Parliament and protests from civil liberties groups. A spokesperson for one such group said: “There are no controls at all. We think it’s quite appalling that members of the public can be caught like this.”30 In the United States, this would be considered a slanderous and liable act, subject to court action.

The United Kingdom does not have a Bill of Rights that protects individuals from government intrusions on privacy. Individuals have limited recourse against local government agencies that provide revealing tapes to commercial producers. While invasion-of-privacy lawsuits can be filed against the producers, they often protect themselves by making the footage sufficiently fuzzy to prevent clear identification of individuals.

Britain’s Local Government Information Unit, an umbrella group representing city and county authorities, has proposed a voluntary Spy Camera Code that would restrict access to CCTV footage. However, such a code would not be legally binding and would have a limited effect.31 36 Canada began operating CCTV video surveillance on public streets and areas 5 years ago. Although its use is not as widespread as in the United Kingdom, CCTV surveillance is utilized by Canadian banks, restaurants and convenience stores, and at industrial sites, offices, apartment buildings, and public transit stations. In 1995, 70 percent of all bank robberies in Canada were recorded on CCTV surveillance systems. CCTV surveillance tapes captured 75 percent of all crimes which were investigated by law enforcement or private security. CCTV video cameras in commercial areas have also been instrumental in helping to find missing persons.32 Canadian customs agents systematically record by video the license number of every car crossing the busier boarder crossings to the United States. The British Columbia Highway Ministry even keeps video records of every car that passes through its highway toll booths.

Commentators predict that CCTV surveillance will grow dramatically as a crime prevention tool in Canada in the coming years. The type of surveillance (active or passive) makes an important difference. Several Canadian studies show that unmonitored cameras are one of the least effective deterrents to robberies in banks and convenience stores. A spokesperson for the Peel Regional Police in Brampton, Ontario questions whether unmonitored CCTV will deter burglaries on school property (the presence of expensive and easily removed computer equipment is attractive to professional burglars).33 In France, wiretapping and electronic and video surveillance are illegal if used to uncover information about a person’s sexual life or personal finances, but are permissible for spying on a person’s business or political activity.34 Because of recent terrorist activity, the French government now permits electronic and CCTV surveillance in public places, including monitoring major roads and city and urban public areas. For example, police officers have established a station in the Parisian suburb of Levallos-Perret to monitor 18 television screens connected to hundreds of CCTV cameras around the city.35 In the business and financial district of Paris, police monitor over 160 CCTV surveillance cameras which scan area streets 24 hours-a-day. The French cities of Enghein-Les Bains, Roubaix and Saint-Gratien also plan to install their own CCTV video surveillance systems. The French transportation system uses video surveillance on streets to regulate traffic flows, detect traffic jams, and to observe roadside disturbances. In Paris, for example, the Metro has installed 2,500 video cameras on municipal buses to identify criminal acts as they occur.

A similar video surveillance system is operating on the national rapid transit (RATP), which has detected 83 percent of all criminal incidents; petty crime has declined as a result. French department stores now use video surveillance to observe all entering shoppers. Security at airline terminals includes monitored CCTV surveillance. In Ireland, CCTV video surveillance has been used by private companies since the mid-1980’s to monitor post offices, shops, banks, building societies, and shopping malls. A privately owned security firm (Group 4 Securities) relies on CCTV video surveillance to protect the country’s public and commercial rail system and its storage facilities, which have been subject to armed raids by local bandits. In an attempt to reduce increasing criminal activity, the Irish Department of Justice recently authorized CCTV surveillance cameras in several high profile downtown areas of Dublin and other selected town centers.36

In Spain, the threat of terrorist attacks has caused extraordinary security measures to be taken by federal authorities, especially in tourist areas. The Spanish Interior Minister has also begun installing video surveillance equipment in public areas in the Basque region in an effort to combat street violence and politically motivated vandalism. According to news reports, a new law will regulate how police and judges may use CCTV surveillance to prosecute offenders. The law also gives citizens more information about surveillance methods and creates standards for access to video tapes.37 The principality of Monaco (500,000 inhabitants) is monitored 24 hours-a-day by CCTV camera surveillance installed on buildings, rooftops, and street poles. A police spokesperson contends that if a crime is committed in Monaco and is not caught on camera, then the police are not doing their job.

Ideally, video surveillance allows a crime to be prevented before it can be accomplished.38

Russia relies on public video surveillance to protect private and state property such as banks, ATM teller machines, and state ministry buildings. Italy utilizes a limited form of CCTV video surveillance in public areas and government buildings in Rome, the Vatican, and other high profile tourist areas. Research indicates that public video surveillance is also used in China, Iran, and especially Iraq. In Iraq, video surveillance cameras are even hidden in public statues.39 3738 Public video surveillance for commercial and private purposes is not a recent phenomenon. The private sector began using CCTV surveillance in banks in the early 1960s, as mandated by federal law, and later in commercial buildings. By the 1970s, CCTV surveillance was also in use in hospitals, all-night convenience stores, art galleries, and in many other commercial locations. Video technology at the time was limited to passively record events, with little or no means for remote active monitoring. On many occasions, police officials were unable to use remote video cameras images to prosecute criminals because quick movements by the criminals resulted in blurred pictures.40 Video technology improved during the mid-1980s with the introduction of camcorder technology, and in the 1990s with digital and multiflexer technology. These powerful new advances in video technology extend its range and law enforcement/surveillance applications.

Video cameras have powerful zoom lenses which can tilt and pan to offer a 360-degree coverage. They also are able to gather sharp, clear images in extremely low light. Moreover, new digital video technology requires less labor intensive monitoring. Digital video surveillance cameras can link computer data processing power with sensor or motion detectors to filter out unrelated activities. Such systems can search through a video database of events, allowing the user to isolate only those details in which a particular image occurs. This technology helps police with criminal investigations in order to solve crimes. An executive for a major security firm contends that, “new surveillance cameras document indisputable events with incredibly high resolution.”41 Many businesses in the United States have invested heavily in the new video surveillance technology to protect products and to promote safe workplace and consumer environments. A recent nationwide survey of a wide variety of companies found that 75 percent utilize CCTV surveillance.42 Private sector CCTV surveillance technology is operated in a wide variety of industries: industry/manufacturing, retailing, financial/insurance/banking, transportation and distribution, utilities/communications, health care, and hotels/motels.

The popularity of CCTV security systems has not gone unnoticed by the manufacturers of camera surveillance systems. Commercial sales of CCTV camera surveillance equipment in 1995 reached record levels. A leading CCTV manufacturer reported net earnings of $120 million in 1995, compared with net earnings of $16 million the previous year.43 According to one security official, American businesses are now spending nearly $100 billion a year on high security products and equipment to help counter $200 billion in annual losses due to crime.44 Over 50 percent of all CCTV surveillance equipment sales are to industrial and commercial clients. CCTV surveillance is also very common in the American workplace. According to the publisher of Privacy Journal, an employer, manager, board member, or supervisor can legally videotape employees with hidden cameras if they suspect wrongdoing. CCTV surveillance is one of 5 legally approved methods to observe suspected employees. Businesses also rely on CCTV video surveillance to detect sexual harassment in the workplace and to observe employees outside the workplace who may be involved in medical malpractice or worker compensation lawsuits.45 Some research suggests that American workers feel safer in the presence of security camera equipment.46 Events such as the World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the closure of Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House have raised public concerns about security. This in turn has made the video surveillance industry more acceptable to the general public.

A leading security industry spokesperson asserts, “years ago shoppers objected to electronic eyes recording their moves; today it’s not only accepted, it’s preferred.”47 A 1995 study asked armed convenience store robbers serving time in Washington state prisons to rank the most important factors that would deter them from robbing a convenience store. Their answers were compared to responses given 10 years earlier by a different group of robbers.48 As shown in Table 1, video recording or camera systems were of little consequence to the robbers.

Table 1

Least To Most Important Deterrent In Robbing A Convenient Store (* Washington State prison sample of robbers)


Rank Order 1985

Rank Order 1995

Amount of Money



Escape Route









Active Police Patrol



Armed Clerk



Number of Clerks



Number of Customers



Camera System



Alarm System



Video Recording



Source: Rosemary Erickson, Athena Research Corp., 1995

In contrast, a 1991 nationwide study of CCTV surveillance in convenience stores showed promising results in deterring robberies. A sample of 81 stores were studied for 1 year before and 1 year after the installation of state-of-the-art CCTV camera surveillance systems. The number of robberies decreased by 53 percent after the first year.49 Longer term data is needed for a full evaluation.

A study conducted in Long Island, New York, found that serious crimes, except rape, dropped after CCTV surveillance systems were installed by businesses and homeowners in 1993. There were 8,000 burglaries reported in Long Island in 1994, compared to about 15,000 in 1975. There were also fewer robberies in 1994 than in 1975. Although other factors such as changing demographics and community policing had some impact on the drop in robberies and burglaries, according to one criminologist, “Long Island is almost like a fortress, and security firms have had a tremendous impact on crime in this area.”5039
40 The first two documented instances of public video surveillance by American police departments were in the cities of Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1966, and Mount Vernon, New York, in 1971.

Other cities soon followed their lead. However, many of these early systems were technically and financially deficient, and lacked local public support. According to a police officer, “Cops weren’t thrilled with the cameras.” Police staff often had to sit in a room to monitor the CCTV cameras, which frequently broke down.51

These early systems generally consisted of cameras either located in downtown business districts or in shopping centers. According to researchers, the Hoboken CCTV system produced only two arrests during the five years it was in operation. The system was dismantled because the city police department considered it an ineffective law enforcement device. In Mount Vernon, the system lasted for three years and did not produce a single arrest. A system in Miami Beach, Florida, was dismantled due to manpower shortages to monitor the cameras and because criminals were moving out of the camera’s range. In Charleston, West Virginia, a reduction in crime was attributed to the a gradual gentrification of the area, not the cameras. The federal grants which funded many of these early systems were discontinued because of poor results.52

Detroit, Michigan used the occasion of the 1980 Republican National Convention to finance and install a video surveillance system in parts of the downtown area. Six years later in 1986, the system was expanded with financial help from local area businesses and the city ($640,000). However by 1994, city officials had disbanded the CCTV surveillance program citing high maintenance and personnel costs and mixed results. 41

The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act authorizes federal funding for state and local law enforcement crime prevention programs. Among other activities, the U.S. Department of Justice funds innovative programs to combat criminal activities of gangs and juveniles with firearms.

Recently, Salinas, California received federal funding for a Geographic Information System (GIS) crime tracking system for gangs. GIS is a computer software used by academic and government demographers to locate, for example, socio-economic characteristics of the population within census tracts or other geographic boundaries. GIS software can generate street maps that pinpoint specific criminal activity and gang characteristics, drugs, firearm use, robberies, and burglaries. Criminal investigators can then use the information to map gang territories and correlate them with crime-related incidents. The information allows law enforcement to anticipate crime problems and direct resources to respond quickly. Since the Salinas GIS project began in October 1995, homicides have decreased by 62 percent, drive-by shootings by 31 percent and gang-related assaults by 23 percent.53

It is intriguing to consider how the Salinas GIS project might be complimented by video technology. For example, CCTV video surveillance could be targeted at areas of criminal activity identified by the GIS crime tracking system. Video surveillance also allows police officers to be less visible during “stake-outs” and thus exposed to reduced risk.

The 1994 federal crime bill also established Regional Law Enforcement Technology Centers to provide information on technology for public safety purposes, along with guidelines and standards for use. For example, the Western Regional Law Enforcement Center located in El Segundo, California, provides technical assistance to state and local law enforcement interested in new surveillance technology. The focus of the Center’s current research is on the development of technology to protect law enforcement personnel in the field. In particular, a new form of video imaging under development has the potential to detect concealed metallic and non-metallic weapons.

When this video imaging system is perfected, it could be used in conjunction with CCTV surveillance cameras, for example to detect weapons at the entrance to public buildings. Fourth Amendment concerns about unreasonable searches may not arise if the technology enables law enforcement to formulate a reasonable suspicion that a person is carrying an illegally concealed weapon.5442

There are at least 13 American cities in which law enforcement officials are operating or implementing CCTV video surveillance as a way to prevent crime and promote public safety. In some cities, the videos are passively recorded and played back at certain intervals, while other cities actively monitor the surveillance images. The following survey describes public CCTV surveillance systems currently operating in the United States. The majority are located on the east coast. This may be because most eastern cities have higher density populations than in the West, facilitating surveillance. Baltimore

In late September, 1995, the Baltimore Police Department (in conjunction with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and the Mass Transit Authority) applied for and received a $75,000 federal “Byrne Memorial” grant to implement a “Video Patrol Project.”55 The program’s goal is to reduce violence in the downtown business district, and thereby reverse the area’s declining attractiveness for shoppers. Aggressive panhandling, prostitution, street dealing of drugs and larcenies from vehicles are the most notable nuisance crimes found by consumers.56 The initial installation cost of cameras, monitors, recorders, and wiring for the project was $47,000. Sixteen fixed-position exterior surveillance cameras provide coverage across the “Howard Street/Lexington Market corridor,” an open air farmer’s market and business district near the heart of the city. The cameras are positioned to capture activities in public places such as streets, sidewalks and public parks. The CCTV system is monitored from a “Korban” (an 8-by-12 foot kiosk) located in the heart of the corridor, staffed by police officers who are part of the federally-funded community oriented policing services program (COPS). Only authorized police officers can review the tapes. Video tape from the CCTV is changed every 24 hours and is indexed and stored in the Korban for up to 96 hours.

During this time period, tapes are reviewed for evidence of criminal or suspicious activity. If an original tape contains potentially probative evidence in criminal or civil litigation, it is retained until a final judgment has been entered and all appeals have been exhausted in that case. If the tapes contain no potential probative evidence, they are discarded or reused. As part of the grant, crime statistics are being gathered to determine the impact of the project on the amount and types of crime occurring in the project area. Factors such as criminal displacement, location of crimes, and arrests within the project are to be considered. At the time of this writing, no useful data has been published. Anecdotal information from businesses and consumers suggests that the system is providing a certain degree of comfort. One Baltimore citizen says, “From time to time, thanks to surveillance cameras, crooks are caught in the act. It helps put down some of the crime that’s going on in the area.”57

Table 2

CCTV Program Information-Baltimore, Maryland


Downtown Baltimore

Dated Installed

June 1996

Hours of Surveillance

7 a.m.

to 11 p.m. Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Private and Public Grants


Cooperative with Police and Community Groups

Reasons For Its Use

Drug Dealing and Street Crime


Anecdotal Evidence Suggests the System is Working

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Newark, New Jersey In 1991, the city of Newark, New Jersey, installed a CCTV system called “Video Patrol” that provides 24 hour surveillance of a two square mile area in the city’s business district. The project was funded through a federal block grant to the Newark Economic Development Corporation. The system is composed of 6 CCTV cameras which are enclosed and protected by environmental housing and connected by fiber optic cables. The cameras have zoom and tilt lenses and a turning radius of 360 degrees. The system is maintained by a private security system but is monitored by the police.

All video tape is erased or used again every 72 hours. Only those portions of a tape linking a crime to a person are kept in storage for court purposes. Both the police department and the downtown business association support the project. According to a spokesperson for the project, the CCTV surveillance system was designed to provide greater security for consumers and to encourage them to return to the area: “I think Video Patrol is an idea whose time has come in an environment where cities are asked to provide more services with less resources. This project demonstrates the role that technology can play in this situation.”58 No official crime-related data measuring the effectiveness of the system has been kept since the system was installed. According to a police spokesperson for Newark, car theft in the downtown district has declined significantly since the CCTV system has been in operation. There has also been steady commercial growth in the business district of Newark over the last four years.59

Table 3

CCTV Program Information-Newark, New Jersey


Downtown Business District

Dated Installed

June 1991

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours a Day

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Federal Economic Development Grant


City Police Downtown and Business Community

Reasons For Its Use

Discourage Crime and Promote Safety


Commercial Growth Continues in Video Surveillance Areas

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

St. PetersburgTampa Bay, Florida

In 1994, an area between St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay known as Gateway experienced increasing numbers of car thefts. Of the 10,000 auto thefts that occurred in the area between the two cities, 3,000 took place in the Gateway area.

The State of Florida provided St. Petersburg a $42,000 grant to purchase mobile video equipment and night scopes for police officers in a surveillance vehicles. Within months, the number of auto thefts had decreased. According to police officials, the video surveillance combined with police officers with night scopes had a major impact. Tampa Bay is purchasing a CCTV video surveillance system with city funds to promote safety in a growing suburban business and entertainment district known as Ybor City. This 2 by 10 square block pedestrian mall is primarily occupied by clubs, restaurants, and shops. According to a Tampa Bay Police Department spokesperson, CCTV surveillance helps to meet the growing security needs of entertainment districts which attract large crowds. It is also an economic necessity, since Tampa Bay’s ability to hire new police officers has not kept pace with population and commercial growth. CCTV surveillance meets the security needs of the public at an affordable cost.60

The Tampa Bay surveillance system operates state of the art pantiltzoom cameras capable of rotating 360 degrees which are monitored from a centrally located kiosk. The project will be completed over three phases, at an estimated cost of $150,000, by 1998.

Table 4

CCTV Program Information-Tampa, Florida


Ybor City District

Dated Installed

September 1996

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours a Day with Monitoring from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Cooperative Public/Private Initiative


Tampa Police Depart. and Ybor Development Agency

Reasons For Its Use

Safety of the Ybor City District, Mainly on Weekends


Preliminary Results Show That Crime is Down in Video Surveillance Areas But Other Factors May be Contributing

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Virginia Beach, Virginia The Virginia Beach CCTV video surveillance program began in 1993, when 5 remote cameras were installed along the beachfront residential and business areas of the city. The concept of video surveillance was heavily supported by citizen advisory groups as well as local business associations.

In 1994, an additional 5 cameras were added to the system. The system cost $240,000, including operation and maintenance, and is paid for through drug asset forfeiture funds and city contingency funds. The Beach area covers 42 blocks of which cameras currently cover 27 blocks. The cameras are mounted on existing signal devices and street light poles and are enclosed in weather-proof housing. The cameras can rotate 360 degrees and are equipped with motorized pan and tilt devices and zoom lenses. The Second Police Precinct controls the cameras and monitors the images, from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. during the summer months and until 11 p.m. in the winter.

The system has provided video evidence for criminal prosecution, has been used to monitor narcotics investigations, track and apprehend suspects, and monitor vehicular and pedestrian foot traffic. “According to a police spokesperson, they have made hundreds of observations that have led to arrests.”61 However there is very little hard statistical data to support the effectiveness of the CCTV system.

Table 5

CCTV Program Information-Virginia Beach, Virginia


Beachfront Property

Dated Installed

August 1993

Hours of Surveillance

13 Hours a Day on Average

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Cooperative Between the Business Community and the City


Virginia Beach Police Department

Reasons For Its Use

Overall Safety of Residents and Visitors


Anecdotal Evidence of Increased Effectiveness of Police

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Memphis, Tennessee In 1996, Memphis initiated a $450,000 CCTV video surveillance program for its downtown business and entertainment district in order to discourage and prevent crime. This area was chosen because of its high visibility and increased business growth. The surveillance system consists of 10 pantiltzoom cameras which are mounted on buildings covering a 12 square block area. The CCTV cameras are linked to police dispatch centers via fiber optic cable. Volunteers and police staff monitor the CCTV system as part of a public/private partnership. The downtown project is the first stage of a planned citywide video crime prevention network which will link police with as many as 72 CCTV surveillance cameras installed on buildings and in parking lots. Police officials believe the CCTV system will give the general public a sense of safety and will assist in identifying and apprehending criminals much faster. “The goal of this project is not to substitute officers for cameras. Rather, this equipment will be an addition to the patrol officers to help with their effectiveness.

The overall objective of this surveillance program is to make the city a safer place for tourists and business owners.”62 According to Memphis police, crime has decreased 10 percent in the downtown area where the cameras are located since the program was initiated.

Table 6

CCTV Program Information-Memphis, Tennessee


Downtown Memphis

Dated Installed

Early 1996

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours a Day

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

City Government and Private Business


City Government and Private Business

Reasons For Its Use

To Prevent Crime and Provide Increased Safety


Crime is Down 10 Percent and Data Collection is in Place

California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Dover, New Jersey In 1993, the town of Dover funded ($30,000) the installation of 4 video surveillance cameras in its downtown and city flea market areas. The cameras are monitored 24 hours-a-day by the police department. The initial goal was to deter loitering but the cameras now serve as a general crime deterrent. According to observers, the public initially was not very supportive of CCTV video surveillance, but opinion changed when loitering disappeared. Dover officials may expand the CCTV cameras to other areas, such as the railroad station and downtown shopping district.

Table 7

CCTV Program Information-Dover, New Jersey


Downtown Dover

Dated Installed

September 1993

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours-a-Day

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Public Funding


Local Government and Police Department

Reasons For Its Use

Loitering and General Crime Deterrent


Reduction In Loitering and General Crime

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

South Orange, New Jersey

In 1994, the South Orange municipality approved the installation of 7 CCTV surveillance cameras to promote public safety in parking lots, intersections, and parks. The project cost $10,000 and was funded through a combination of federal grants and municipal funds. Currently the system is monitored 6 hours per day, but police are preparing a federal grant application in order to fund 24 hour-a-day monitoring. According to South Orange officials, crime has decreased since the cameras’ installation. Police Chief Thomas Andrew states that as a result of the surveillance cameras, auto theft is down 40 percent in the district and people in the community generally feel much safer walking the streets. South Orange officials are considering expanding CCTV video surveillance to the city business district, much like their neighbors in Newark.

Table 8

CCTV Program Information-South Orange, New Jersey


Downtown Area Parking Lots, Streets, and Parks

Dated Installed


Hours of Surveillance

6 Hours a Day

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Federal Grant And Municipal Funds


City Officials and Local Police

Reasons For Its Use

General Crime Prevention


Auto Thefts Are Down 40 Percent

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Tacoma, Washington

In 1993, Tacoma became the first city in the country to install a CCTV video surveillance system to address neighborhood crime in residential rather than commercial business districts. This unique approach to fighting residential crime was initiated by the neighborhood residents. “Before the cameras were put in, there were drug dealers selling drugs and prostitutes hooking anywhere they can hide; behind tresses, bushes, even under the steps of buildings,” said one resident. According to a member of the Hilltop Action Coalition, an ethnically diverse community, residents organized a series of meetings with the police department and city officials and jointly decided that a video surveillance system should be pursued. The city promptly applied for and received a federal grant of $125,000 to install 3 pantiltzoom cameras on neighborhood light poles. Police officers monitor the cameras from a substation located near the area. If no identifiable crime is recorded, the tape is reused after a 24 hour period. According to Tacoma police, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of crimes in the Hilltop neighborhood. Crimes detected by cameras such as assaults, trespassing, prostitution and vandalism dropped from 244 reported incidents in 1993 to 87 in 1994, and 125 in 1995.63 Many of the drug dealers and prostitutes that once filled the street corners have left, having been arrested or seen their customers drift away. The success of the Tacoma neighborhood system has led to development of a CCTV video surveillance system in the nearby community of Tukwila to combat robbers and prostitution.

A recently installed 6 camera CCTV system covers an 8 block area. Police and trained volunteers monitor the images from a centrally located storefront as part of Tukwilla’s community-policing program. Residents and local merchants support the high-tech strategy: “This is a very tough neighborhood, especially at night,” said the manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken store. 64

Table 9

CCTV Program Information-Tacoma, Washington


Hilltop Neighborhood

Dated Installed

August 1993

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours a Day

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

City of Tacoma


Community Residents and the Police Department

Reasons For Its Use

Drug and Prostitute Crimes


Reduction In Criminal Activity in the Area

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Hollywood, California

In 1995, crime was rampant along the Yucca Street corridor in the heart of Hollywood. Hollywood police could not contribute more resources to fight this problem because of a shortage of funds and personnel. Building owners and landlords collectively pooled their resources ($15,000) to purchase and install CCTV cameras atop apartment buildings and business entrances, in order to conduct 24 hour-a-day surveillance of the streets. Following the initial success of this effort, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency contributed an additional $25,000 to purchase and install 3 more CCTV cameras linked to a police substation. The entire system is currently monitored 24 hours-a-day by volunteers who are local residents and Los Angeles Guardian Angels. Some local advocates contend that CCTV surveillance gives them a sense of empowerment to confront their own crime problems. As people enter the Yucca Street corridor, signs proclaim “Entering Video Tape Surveillance Zone.” According to supporters, this proclamation has driven away gang members and prostitutes from the area.65 The Yucca corridor project has attracted interest in other areas of Los Angeles. In mid-1995, business tenants of a large urban shopping mall (Northridge Shopping Center) pooled resources and installed 64 CCTV cameras to scan the 72 acre complex.

The immediate benefit was a sharp reduction in auto theft and burglaries. Other Los Angeles community-based groups and businesses are also interested in replicating the Yucca and Northridge CCTV approach. The Los Angeles City and County governments have expressed support for resident-initiated CCTV video surveillance systems, but are not currently planning to fund such an activities.

Table 10

CCTV Program Information-Hollywood, California


Yucca Street Corridor

Dated Installed

Early 1995

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours-a-Day

Type of Surveillance

Active Monitoring

Funding Source

Private Funds


Community Association and Local Police

Reasons For Its Use

Drugs, Prostitution, and Gangs


Criminal Activity in the Area Has Diminished

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage has 7 mobile community patrols whose primary purpose is to videotape illegal activity in the residential and commercial areas of the Spenard section of the city. The volunteer video patrol effort began in 1992 to assist the middle-class neighborhood to rid itself of gambling and prostitution. Funding is provided by the business community and state grants. Video images are transferred via cable to a resident’s 486-PC, where the images are digitized. The tapes are edited for clarity to identify perpetrators, printed on paper and given to the police and local businesses. A spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department states that video patrols are beneficial because they provide police with the basic information and physical evidence to build a case against potential felons. “They have definitely assisted in capturing criminals. I would characterize Spenard as a better community today than it was 5 years ago. Crime definitely went down in Spenard and I would attribute that somewhat to the video patrol.”66

Table 11

CCTV Program Information-Anchorage, Alaska


Spenard Section of Anchorage

Dated Installed

Early 1992

Hours of Surveillance

Nightly From 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Type of Surveillance

Passive Monitoring From Mobile Units

Funding Source

Private and Public Grants


Through the Spenard Community Patrol

Reasons For Its Use

To Reduce Drugs, Brothels, and Illegal Gambling


Anecdotal Reduction In Drugs, Prostitution, and Gambling

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

San Diego, California (Park District)

The San Diego CCTV surveillance program is unique because it is operated by the city’s park system, an important tourist destination. In 1993, after a series of crimes (including two murders in Balboa Park), park rangers began a successful campaign to persuade local businesses to donate CCTV surveillance equipment to the park. The Balboa Park CCTV surveillance system consists of 5 cameras which monitor the pedestrian mall and museum buildings. The CCTV runs 24 hours a day and is actively monitored during regular business hours. According to park officials, in the 3 years since the surveillance system went into effect, park crowds have increased and visitors feel an enhanced sense of security. In the first nine months after the system’s installation, crime decreased in almost every category in Balboa Park.67 Expanding the CCTV surveillance system would require public funding.

Table 12

CCTV Program Information-San Diego, California


Balboa Park

Dated Installed

Summer 1993

Hours of Surveillance

24 Hours a Day

Type of Surveillance

Actively Monitored During Business Hours Only

Funding Source

Equipment Donated


Balboa Park Security

Reasons For Its Use

Car Theft and General Crimes


Reduction In Criminal Activity in the Park Area

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996


During the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, thousands of surveillance cameras were installed to protect Olympic athletes and spectators. High-speed programmable zoom cameras feed information to a central command post, recording the movements of some of the two million Olympic visitors. The cameras were located atop the scoreboard in Olympic Stadium, mounted on walls and hung from poles in Olympic Park. According to security officials, the cameras were so well concealed that many visitors thought they were lights.

Although surveillance camera were operating in Centennial Park on the night of the Olympic bombing, they were not focused on any particular area nor were they actively monitored at the time. Many of the Atlanta Olympics security measures were funded by the Atlanta Olympic Committee. According to a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department, most of the CCTV surveillance cameras systems used for the games were provided by private companies and will not continue to monitor pedestrian foot traffic in the busy downtown venues. However, the CCTV surveillance cameras used to monitor vehicle traffic during the games are still in operation.68 Fort Lauderdale recently installed CCTV video surveillance cameras along a popular river trail that was plagued by vandals, and in high visibility downtown pedestrian areas. Due to its relative newness, no hard data has yet been collected to evaluate the impact of CCTV video surveillance on local crime.

The San Francisco Police Department recently began a passive CCTV video surveillance program to monitor vehicle traffic at busy intersections of the city. According to a police department spokesperson, the surveillance program was prompted by public demand to crack down on “speeders” who consistently run red lights and endanger other vehicles and pedestrians.69 The surveillance cameras are electronically activated once a red light change occurs at an intersection and record the front and rear license plate of all cars in view. A moving violation ticket is sent to the registered owner of vehicles involved in infractions.

New Orleans and Portland are in the process of seeking local approval to install CCTV surveillance systems. The New Orleans system would use CCTV camera surveillance in the business and entertainment districts. The Portland CCTV surveillance system is designed as a crime prevention centerpiece for the downtown transit mall area, which is experiencing robberies, thefts, storefront vandalism and drug dealing. According to a Portland police spokesperson, the new CCTV system would be used mainly to monitor pedestrian traffic.

Other major cities such as Phoenix, Cleveland, and New York are also considering setting up similar video surveillance programs.7044 The California Research Bureau conducted a telephone survey of all the major city police departments in California to determine the extent to which they plan to utilize public CCTV surveillance in the future. Most police officials indicated that CCTV video surveillance of public areas is not in use at this time (with the exception of Hollywood and San Diego; see above). When asked why not, most departments expressed the view that video surveillance is not as effective in deterring crime as community policing and other prevention strategies. While some police officials believe CCTV video surveillance could be a useful crime prevention tool, many are unsure of how it could be used effectively in their city. For example, in urban California cities where commercial and entertainment venues are spread out and where mobility is at a premium, it could be difficult to effectively rely on a fixed CCTV surveillance system to cover a vast area. Police officers might have difficulty in responding in a timely manner to crimes viewed on monitors. Some police officials believe, however, that as urban build-out occurs and destination venues such as entertainment districts become more defined, it will be easier to use CCTV video surveillance in the future. For example, police officials in Oakland and Sacramento are exploring the potential use of CCTV video surveillance.

Two Sacramento business associations currently fund and operate passive CCTV surveillance systems in public downtown mall areas. Table 13 briefly summarizes public CCTV surveillance programs in California.

Table 13

CCTV Public Surveillance Use By California City Police Departments


Active CCTV Surveillance

Location of System

Future Consideration


Two surveillance cameras are passively operated by local business associations. Old town and downtown plaza areas. Yes

San Francisco

Yes-to improve traffic safety and reduce traffic violations

Various traffic intersections

Yes-as the necessity dictates


Currently proposed

High crime area of downtown


San Jose



Not at this time




Not at this time

Los Angeles

Funded privately and limited to the Hollywood Division.

Yucca Street corridor





Not at this time




Not at this time




Not at this time

San Diego

Yes-in the park system

Balboa Park

Not at this time

Source: California Research Bureau/California State Library, 1996

45 46

Neighborhood activists and police have teamed up over the past several years to address crime concerns in public housing projects by incorporating video surveillance with other crime prevention measures. The most effective projects combine video surveillance in a large collaborative effort involving the community and community policing. In Boston, a major collaborative effort was recently undertaken to improve the quality of life in the public housing projects of Roxse Homes, Camfield Gardens, and Grant Manor. Trained security officers have the power to make arrests, monitor CCTV surveillance cameras and respond to illegal activity captured on the video. The project, known as Safe Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP), cost $1.3 million to implement and has reduced crime in the 3 projects by 30 percent.71

In Kinston, North Carolina, the local housing authority installed 20 CCTV surveillance cameras on street poles at a cost of $35,000 in spring 1996. There is no statistical information available yet to determine whether the project has been successful in reducing crime. According to the Kinston Housing Authority Director, the CCTV cameras have already served to deter street crime in the projects. In spring 1994, Camden, New Jersey public housing officials installed CCTV surveillance cameras to help fight drugs and vandalism. Prior to the installation, residents in the housing projects felt they were hostages to the criminal elements. The cameras are mounted on street poles which cover the entire 18 building complex, and are monitored by police at a local substation.

Results of the project over the 2 year period have been mixed. Housing authority officials report no significant decrease in arrests but there has been a drop in violent crime and domestic violence. In 1993, the Garfield, New Jersey Housing Authority installed the first of 33 CCTV surveillance cameras to enhance public safety and deter drug-related crime, at a cost of $30,000. The cameras are located in 5 housing sites inside domes and under eaves, and their viewing range encompasses 23 buildings, parking areas, playgrounds, and housing corridors. Signs are posted throughout the complex that read “Surveillance cameras videotaped 24 hours every day.” The CCTV cameras are not actively monitored but passively tape activities, with all tapes reviewed for suspicious behavior or to identify a person caught in the act of committing a crime. According to the Housing Authority, more CCTV cameras are scheduled for installation in other areas of public housing once federal grants are secured. 47

Some public transit systems have been using video cameras on buses and in rail stations for several years. In Portland, for example, CCTV surveillance cameras have been operating in all 3 of the city’s rail stations since 1992. The cameras are monitored from a centrally located area at each rail station. The Portland public rail system is considered a model for the country. Municipal bus systems in San Francisco, Cleveland, and Portland rely on video cameras mounted on bus ceilings to record passenger activity. Public transit systems in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Sacramento also use video surveillance cameras inside of buses to help prevent fraudulent claims and reduce incidents of passenger harassment and vandalism.

Other cities are contemplating similar uses. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) utilizes video cameras on many of the state’s major freeway systems to monitor and regulate traffic flow. Caltrans also has an “Automatic Vehicle Identification” system operating at certain toll plazas in Southern California which identifies cars as they pass roadside sensors. Transponders located in license plates identify a car’s registration as it passes through the toll, triggering road user billing accounts.72 Toll road systems in Florida and in New Jersey use CCTV surveillance cameras to identify moving violators and prevent traffic jams. Amtrak has begun operating an “interactive video” system (PFA Flex 300) at major rail stations in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. for information and ticketing. This system allows agents to serve customer needs more efficiently and perform other tasks. The system is being tested in select low-volume stations for other uses including video surveillance, public announcements, lighting and door locking, credit card reading, and train status information.7348 Schools are increasingly targets of burglaries due to the expensive computer equipment on site.

In California, the Department of Education and the Attorney General’s office recently developed a model plan for school safety, emphasizing prevention and interagency cooperation. CCTV or video surveillance is not part of the crime prevention plan. According to a California Department of Education spokesperson, CCTV video surveillance was not considered as part of the crime prevention strategy. When asked why not, the spokesperson did not have an explaination. However, school districts in other states are experimenting with CCTV video surveillance as a principal security measure to reduce campus violence and prevent crimes such as theft and graffiti. The CCTV surveillance systems either passively record activities and are played back at certain intervals, or are actively monitored by personnel. According to a 1996 survey of secondary school administrators conducted by the American Society for Industrial Security, schools which use either passive or active CCTV surveillance systems, contend that the systems have contributed to reduced property crimes such as break-ins, theft, and vandalism. Advocates point out that schools are well designed for effective video surveillance since they have a captive student population and staff in a restricted campus area. Nationwide, 31 percent of all elementary and secondary public school classrooms use CCTV for classroom education.

In addition, 49 percent of all elementary and secondary public school administrative offices rely on CCTV to monitor classroom activities. 74 In a recent nationwide telephone survey of public schools, 47 percent of the respondents indicated that CCTV video surveillance is being used in some capacity in a school as a crime prevention measure. According to the survey, most schools use the CCTV video surveillance to monitor entranceways and parking lots, hallways, stairways, and cafeterias (see Chart 2).

Chart 2

Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime ...

The following discussion examines a sample of school districts in the United States which operate passive or active CCTV video surveillance at elementary, middle or high school campuses. Many schools and city and county school boards are considering installing video surveillance systems to enhance school safety and prevent crime and violence. According to educational researchers, no one has evaluated the effectiveness of video surveillance in schools or on school buses. In addition, many schools which use CCTV video surveilance do not undertake professional security assessments, which serve as a proactive approach to prevention and intervention.75 Most of the literature describes programs which district administrators claim have positive results.76

  • The Huntsville School District in Alabama has installed an active microwave-based camera surveillance system in over 40 schools to combat campus burglaries and other crime. This “integrated digital network” for video surveillance delivers images from school locations to monitoring personnel at a centralized security facility. It was developed and installed by Bell-South Telecommunications. A Huntsville school district spokesperson states that the CCTV system has had a positive impact on students by providing a sense of security which was missing before the installation of the cameras. In the five years prior to the installation, the school district lost $6 million to theft, fire, and vandalism. Since 1995, these type of losses have nearly disappeared and the district’s insurance premium has yielded a $700,000 savings.77
  • In Indianapolis, the largest high school campus (North Central High School) uses 90 CCTV video surveillance cameras inside and outside campus buildings to protect against car theft, arson, and violence.

    School personnel monitor the CCTV surveillance cameras during school hours.

  • Oregon’s
  • Centennial School District recently placed CCTV surveillance cameras at high school and middle school campuses to curb thefts of school property, personal property, and vandalism and to enhance after-school activity safety. The system is actively monitored by school personnel.

  • Santa Fe
  • public schools use hidden video surveillance cameras on some school buses to prevent vandals and graffiti artists from destroying or damaging school property.78 The video is reviewed at the end of each day and after weekends and holidays. A proposal was recently presented to the school board to extend CCTV surveillance to school sites but was defeated.

  • The Lafayette Parish School Board in Louisiana installed video surveillance cameras on district school buses in 1994 to protect the safety of bus drivers who were being threatened by students. Within a year, camera surveillance was expanded to schools within the district which had student behavioral problems. No data has been kept to determine the impact of CCTV video surveillance on the incidence of behavioral problems at the schools.79
  • The Austin Independent School District has installed CCTV surveillance in one high crime area middle school. The system is actively monitored by school staff to prevent fights and destruction of school property. Four of the district’s high schools also use CCTV surveillance cameras to actively monitor all students and other persons entering the campus. In addition, the school district recently approved a $369 million bond which includes purchasing CCTV surveillance cameras for all school campuses.80 School districts in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston also operate CCTV surveillance at certain schools.
  • Chicago’s
  • Farragut High School was a notoriously violent campus prior to the installation of a CCTV surveillance system and the introduction of other security measures in 1995. According to the school’s administrator, within one year of the installation of the CCTV system, major acts of violence, locker break-ins, and vandalism have ceased almost entirely.

    The system is monitored by trained personnel.81

  • Independence High School in Columbus, Ohio, installed CCTV monitors in 1995, and within one year break-ins decreased from 10 to none. Euclid High School in Cleveland uses 30 CCTV surveillance cameras to monitor hallways, stairwells, and entrances for its 2,000 students. Both systems are actively monitored by school personnel. The Reynoldsburg, Ohio school district began using CCTV video surveillance in school buses and in the high school’s main buildings in 1995.
  • The Renton School District in the state of Washington relies on 4 CCTV surveillance cameras in each of its 3 schools to combat trespassing, drug dealing, and graffiti. The systems are actively monitored by school personnel.
  • Prince Georges
  • County, Maryland has 400 CCTV surveillance cameras monitoring student activity on 20 high school campuses. The CCTV system is mostly passive but some cameras are actively monitored by campus personnel. The surveillance activity is the result of a 1995 campus shooting in which a student died.

  • In Clark County (Las Vegas) Nevada, 2 CCTV surveillance cameras are in place at each elementary school, while up to 10 CCTV cameras are operating on the high school campuses. According to security experts, the Las Vegas school CCTV system is the most sophisticated in the country, primarily because it was designed by casino security personnel.
  • Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia installed CCTV surveillance cameras in 1995 after a teacher was raped on campus. Students and faculty at the campus supported the installation and suggested locations based on their knowledge of where crimes and illegal acts had taken place.

    All cameras are actively monitored by personnel.

  • Norfolk
  • public schools use CCTV surveillance to give students a sense of security on campus. The CCTV system actively screens people entering and exiting campus. The cameras are located only in public areas of the campus.

As noted above, some school districts have installed video cameras on buses to curtail violence and particularly the use of weapons. They generally are passive systems which record but are not monitored. Some districts mount boxes in all their buses and rotate surveillance cameras among them so the students never know whether they are being taped. This is less expensive than spending $1,000 per bus for a surveillance camera.

At least 15 universities have installed CCTV surveillance systems which are monitored by campus police. Most systems are designed to improve safety and security against robberies, muggings, and sexual violence. According to one research report, most of the campuses have recorded sharp drops in crime as a result of the CCTV surveillance systems.82 49 While not necessary the recommendations of the author or the Bureau, the following are potential options for action.

Close Circuit Television (CCTV) video surveillance is an emerging security technology utilized by law enforcement to monitor commercial districts, schools, and residential areas and by business to enhance workplace security.

It is a useful tool for community policing programs, as demonstrated in many cities in the United States. In California, only the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department currently operates a video surveillance program, through a local community-funded initiative. It is only a matter of time before other California law enforcement agencies and parks and school districts utilize CCTV surveillance technology. The State Legislature may want to consider the implications, benefits, safeguards and standards which might ensure that California communities benefit from this and other related technologies. 50 The Legislature could review the role that CCTV video surveillance technology might play as a component of the state’s comprehensive crime prevention strategy. Factors to be considered for a statewide framework might include: community participation in establishing projects; minimum standards for implementation; training requirements for monitoring personnel (including volunteers); criteria to ensure confidentiality; and clearly articulated links with community policing. The goal of the framework would be to provide for the appropriate and beneficial use of public video surveillance in California. The framework might also provide the means by which other new technologies could be evaluated and introduced in California for law enforcement purposes. 51

The 1994 federal crime bill has been a funding source for CCTV video surveillance in many communities.83 A state framework which clearly defines the role technology may play in enhancing public safety might facilitate California communities’ ability to gain grant funds. It might also encourage local school bond funding for safety purposes.

  • The Legislature could direct the Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) to provide assistance to local communities to help develop appropriate grant applications for selected local law enforcement, commercial and neighborhood pilot projects incorporating CCTV video surveillance technology.
  • The Legislature could create a state matching grant program to encourage and supplement private and local funding for public safety projects utilizing CCTV video surveillance and other technologies.


  • The Legislature could direct the Department of Justice to consult with local law enforcement, and neighborhood activists, and school, transit, park and housing authorities to develop regulations and standards for personnel training. This could include surveillance and monitoring activities. Standards for peace officer and private security and volunteer participation might also be included.


  • The Department of Justice could be charged with developing guidelines for how video surveillance tape will be reviewed, handled and disposed. This might include recommended penalties (civil and criminal) for breach of confidentiality and commercial misuse. The models developed in Baltimore and Tacoma could be useful starting points (see pages 15 and 21).


Innovative crime prevention projects using new technologies are operating across the country, including one in Salinas, California (see page 16). The Western Regional Law Enforcement Technology Center located in El Segundo, California provides technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies interested in new surveillance technology, (see page 27) among other activities.

  • The Legislature could establish a program to fund innovative local projects that combine, for example, a GIS crime mapping pilot which identifies high crime areas with CCTV surveillance to prevent crime and productively target community policing response measures.
  • The Legislature could investigate newly developed concealed weapon surveillance technology which could be installed in high crime area neighborhoods where gun violence and gang activity are prevalent. State matching funds might encourage local law enforcement activity.

    The Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) could assist local jurisdictions to apply for federal funding.


The popularity of CCTV video surveillance as a crime prevention tool is an important component of the re-emergence of downtown entertainment and commercial business districts. Business partnerships composed of retailers and various agencies of local governments have been created in cities such as Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Memphis to provide the funding capital for CCTV video surveillance crime prevention projects. Community-oriented policing programs help monitor the surveillance systems and respond to criminal activity. The California Property and Business Improvement District Law was created in 1994 to promote economic revitalization within city or county business districts through a levied assessment. A “management district plan” is required with approval, by either a city council or county board of supervisors, prior to the formation a business district.

  • The Legislature could modify the law where appropriate to specify that local governments may create partnerships with commercial business associations for public safety and other associated purposes. The goal would be to enhance public safety of business and entertainment districts. Federal, state, and local public and private funds could purchase CCTV video surveillance equipment to monitor public street and sidewalk areas. Operational guidelines for active or passive monitoring by volunteers and private security personnel could be developed by the Department of Justice, based in part on the Baltimore model (see page 15).


Residential neighborhood initiatives to improve public safety using CCTV video surveillance have been undertaken in the cities of Tacoma and Hollywood (see pages 21 and 22).

  • The Legislature could create a Residential Neighborhood Security Act which would empower local organizations and neighborhood associations to participate in Office of Criminal Justice Planning and funding projects. A framework for volunteer participation would be useful. The plans might specify how CCTV video surveillance will be coordinated with community policing, neighborhood watch programs, and volunteer staffing of surveillance monitors.

Local residential security districts could be created upon meeting standards specified by the OCJP or the Department of Justice. The community security districts could be given authority t o install and operate CCTV video surveillance within the district’s defined geographical boundary, consistent with state guidelines. Some related activities might include:

1. Identify juveniles who violate local curfews or are loitering in the
neighborhood. Work with the police to ensure that their activities are consistent with any parole and probation orders.

2. Improve truancy enforcement.

3. Look for and identify people who display firearms in the community.

This might include pilot projects using new concealed weapons identification surveillance technology.

4. Identify speeding vehicles to enhance the effectiveness of traffic laws.

Information presented in this study suggests that CCTV video surveillance is widespread in schools across the country. Its primary purpose is to serve as a deterrent against acts of vandalism, graffiti, fights or gang-related activities, drug use, and thefts. However California schools do not currently employ CCTV video surveillance as a security measure. Instead, metal detectors and school district police personnel are the primary mechanisms used by California schools to prevent acts of violence, especially gun violence. For example, school districts in Los Angeles spend about $12 million annually for campus security. CCTV video surveillance in schools raises some important questions, including:

  1. Who would be responsible for monitoring the video tapes (school police, school staff, volunteers or a combination)?
  2. Under what conditions should CCTV surveillance be used?
  3. Where would the surveillance cameras be located?
  4. Does CCTV video surveillance send a message to students and parents that they are not trusted?
  • The Department of Education could study schools in other states which utilize CCTV surveillance to determine how the technology might best be used in California, and provide “lessons learned” information to school districts.
  • The Legislature could create a state matching grant program (school bonds for safety and security projects) to supplement local funding for public safety projects utilizing CCTV video surveillance and other technologies. Telephone companies might assist in developing an integrated digital school network (see discussion of Huntsville schools, page 29). Federal grants could also be a promising funding source.
  • California school districts could be encouraged by the State Department of Education and the Attorney General to consider using CCTV video surveillance in selected schools. This would require an amendment to their recent model plan for school security and violence prevention.
  • CCTV surveillance systems could supplement security personnel in selected schools which are experiencing high rates of vandalism, theft, and graffiti.

    These schools might be targeted for pilot project funds and technical assistance. If school or volunteer personnel monitor the video, school security personnel could productively use their time to actively prevent drug use, after-school fighting and vandalism.

  • The state could contract for a controlled study to compare schools with CCTV surveillance to schools that rely on metal detectors or security personnel. Variables such as incidence of vandalism, theft, and graffiti, student safety, and operational costs could be developed to measure the preventive success of one form of security to another.


Security in public housing projects in the United States has been a major concern of residents and housing officials for years. In California, gang-related activity is a major concern in most housing projects located throughout the state and particularly in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. Some recent efforts by housing officials in other states to incorporate CCTV video surveillance overall with other crime prevention measures have proven to be successful in reducing criminal activity sometimes (see pages 26-27).

  • The Legislature could direct the Department of Housing and Community Development to work with local housing authorities to develop CCTV video surveillance systems. At-risk housing projects with high crime activity could be ear-marked as pilot projects for CCTV surveillance implementation perhaps with state matching grants.
  • Local housing authorities could develop master security plans which incorporate CCTV video surveillance systems in a cost effective manner along with other security strategies. Ideally, the strategies would compliment each other.


Urban video surveillance systems are essential components of traffic regulation in France and England.

These systems are successful in assisting authorities to regulate traffic flow through busy inner city streets, detecting traffic jams and roadside disturbances. In the U.S., Florida operates video surveillance on busy inner state roads for traffic safety purposes. San Francisco has begun video surveillance on busy surface streets to detect drivers who violate traffic lights.

  • The Legislature could direct Caltrans to assist California cities and towns to develop video surveillance systems when appropriate, in order to identify and fine traffic violators who would otherwise go unpunished. The potential benefits could be substantial: local governments lose up to 30 percent in collection fees from undetected traffic violators. Furthermore, video surveillance could help jurisdictions effectively utilize surface streets by preventing traffic jams.


Given the important role that crime prevention plays in law enforcement, surprisingly little is known about the effectiveness of new technologies such as CCTV video surveillance to prevent or discourage crime.

  • The Legislature could request the University of California to design efficient and effective data collection methods by which localities could measure the impact of CCTV video surveillance on crime and public safety. The local projects could forward their data to the OCJP for analysis and report.
  • Local community policing programs established with the help of federal grants could evaluate the value of associated surveillance programs. Federal grants might be available to fund the evaluations.



  1. ^ Digest (
  2. ^ Historical Overview (
  3. ^ Important Legal Issues (
  4. ^ Silent Video Surveillance (
  5. ^ Fourth Amendment Implications (
  6. ^ Chilling Effect (
  7. ^ Potential Tort Liability Under California Law (
  8. ^ International Development (
  9. ^ United Kingdom CCTV Video Surveillance System Operations (
  10. ^ Civil Liberty Conerns (
  11. ^ Public Video Surveillance In Other Countries (
  12. ^ Contemporary Use In the United States (
  13. ^ Commercial and Private Usage (
  14. ^ State and Local Law Enforcement (
  15. ^ Initial Pilot Projects (
  16. ^ Potential Pairing With Other New Technologies (
  17. ^ Public Video Surveillance in U.S. Cities (
  18. ^ Selected Other Cities (
  19. ^ Future Plans of California Cities (
  20. ^ Public Housing, Transit Authorities and Schools (
  21. ^ Public Housing CCTV Video Surveillance Programs (
  22. ^ Public Transit (
  23. ^ School Districts (
  24. ^ Legislative and Administrative Options (
  25. ^ Endnotes (
  26. ^