The ACLU and EPIC have campaigned long and hard against surveillance cameras in public spaces, and they’ve had considerable success — despite a paucity of actual serious privacy abuses. So it’s worth remembering that all this privacy theater imposes real costs on crime victims.
This story, headlined “After Boy and Girl Are Stabbed, Anger Over a Lack of Cameras” is only surprising because it appears in the New York Times:
The 7-year-old girl is hospitalized in critical condition, the only witness to a crime that so far defies explanation: A man stabbed two young children in the elevator of a public-housing project and escaped into the late-spring evening. Her best friend, a 6-year-old boy, is dead.
Though residents of the Brooklyn housing project saw a man fleeing through the development after the attack, he remained at large on Monday, the search made more difficult because the building has no surveillance cameras.
Living in housing projects in East New York means living with the daily threat of violence, and Boulevard Houses is no exception. But until Sunday night, parents felt safe taking their children downstairs to play….
The lack of cameras raised questions on Monday as elected officials accused the New York City Housing Authority, which manages the building, of being slow to install the cameras.
To be fair, I haven’t seen reports suggesting that privacy groups opposed installation of surveillance cameras in these particular public spaces. Maybe they think that city-owned public housing should be as freely surveilled as private housing. But I wouldn’t take bets on it.