BPD’s Community Cam-Share Privacy Concerns
I am a Clam Point resident who recently became aware of the Boston Police Department’s (BPD) new Community Cam-Share program.
Businesses sharing CCTV footage with police after a crime has been committed and police have issued a subpoena, has been going on for years with great success. Sharing video footage of an alleged crime aids law enforcement in arresting criminals and helps keep our neighborhoods safe.
But there are privacy concerns about the new cam-share program that business owners and residents should be aware of.
Police cam-share programs have been popping up across the country under different names like ProjectNola and Project Greenlight. These programs begin with police asking businesses and homeowners to voluntarily link their CCTV cameras to a police department but after a year or two they become mandatory.
A comment made by then District 11 Captain Tim Connolly to the Dorchester Reporter revealed how the police hope to eventually create a city wide surveillance network using community cam-share cameras. (https://www.dotnews.com/2017/police-seek-catalog-private-security-cameras)
Connecting every CCTV camera to a city-wide surveillance center run by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center is disconcerting. Especially after it was just revealed that they have been secretly spying on residents social media without City Hall’s knowledge. (https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/internet-privacy/boston-police-used-social-media-surveillance-years-without)
Why does the BPD retain all rights to video footage from a business camera? Why aren’t business owners allowed to release any footage or still images at their own discretion? What precautions are in place to ensure it won’t be deleted or edited? (http://columbiasavinhillcivic.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Cam-Share-Registration-FormUPDATED.pdf)
With violent crimes in Boston and across the country declining or at all-time lows, the questions residents should be asking is why do we need more surveillance? Boston used to be known as the ‘cradle of liberty’, let’s keep it that way.
Joe Cadillic is a former private investigator, member of the Digital Fourth and a privacy, civil rights blogger. (https://massprivatei.blogspot.com/)