Newark, New Jersey, residents beware: someone may be watching you as you go about your daily routine. And not just police or those with authority, either. It could also be your neighbor, or someone you’ve never met. Called the “Citizen Virtual Patrol,” the city of Newark is inviting everyone to join in on a surveillance program. In what’s likely one of the first cities to do so, Newark has opened up the live feeds of surveillance cameras throughout their city to the general public. And the program has been put in place to allow people to report any suspicious activity they may see, according to the New York Times.
The program, according to public safety director Anthony F. Ambrose, is “part of building a partnership.” The camera feeds that are available for people to watch include cameras installed on streets with stores, public housing, and even residential areas with family homes. If you want to know if you’re near one of these program cameras, just look for a sign that says “This Area Is Under Video Surveillance.”
The Citizen Virtual Patrol started in April with 62 cameras. All of the cameras are places that are considered to have heavy foot traffic. More cameras are expected to be installed, possibly another 100. Soon, feeds will be accessible to citizens, not just by the website, but also via a smartphone app.
“…it opens a Pandora’s box of potentially devastating consequences for unsuspecting people and gives would-be stalkers or burglars a powerful tool for tracking their targets.”#security #privacy #tech #surveillance #dataprivacy #humanrights https://t.co/a48iFtA9pf
— Hash_Tigre (@hash_tigre) June 10, 2018
A police spokeswoman also emphasized that the program is a way to build a partnership with the community.
“We want to give residents the opportunity to look with us… It gives the community an opportunity to be engaged in police work and create a better relationship between the police and the community.”
Opponents have sounded the alarm, saying that this is a step beyond a “Big Brother” surveillance program that needs to be stopped.
On the other hand, some residents are just now realizing that their homes or storefronts can be constantly watched by anyone with an internet connection.
However, there are proponents of the program throughout the community, which has been afflicted with violent crime and has a difficult past of clashes between the community and police who are accused of brutality.
Other examples of extreme surveillance techniques include those harnessed by the Chinese government. Through an extensive network of cameras and human surveillance systems, each citizen in the country is assigned a “social credit score” which can dictate what one can and cannot do.