Walter Pincus, in his Aug. 12 column, “Think the NSA is a problem? Cameras are everywhere,” correctly pointed to the vast and growing number of surveillance cameras in our society as evidence that intrusive government surveillance cuts broader than just the recently leaked National Security Agency programs. So, too, should the public conversation. Widespread video monitoring, unrelated to a specific law-enforcement objective, threatens many of our most cherished constitutional rights, including what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously dubbed “the right to be let alone.”
But while Mr. Pincus correctly identified the problem, he seemed resigned to more surveillance “waiting on the horizon” when this need not be the case. There are legislative and regulatory solutions for government agencies using video surveillance programs. It is vital that policymakers ensure the laws and regulations safeguarding our privacy and civil liberties keep pace with advancing technology. With reasoned dialogue and informed debate, restoring balance to video surveillance is possible.
Virginia E. Sloan, Washington
The writer is president of the Constitution Project.