Surveillance Debate

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Benefits and Concerns of Surveillance
Ashif Mohammod
Corey Clarke
James Carpenter
Peter Thompson

Table of Contents

Introduction Pg3
Audio & Biometrics SurveillancePg3
Video &Electronic SurveillancePg5

Many of us go about our day with little thought we are being watched. We take our privacy for granted. In some instances where we go or what we do is recorded by CCTV cameras. These little cameras housed in a black round domes seem to be everywhere hanging over our heads. Are they invading our privacy? Are they there to protect us? There is always a debate discussing the benefits and concerns of surveillance. What is surveillance? Surveillance is a French word meaning “watching over”. It is also the monitoring of activities and behaviours of people usually individuals or groups from a distance. It is used by government agencies and law enforcement to maintain social control and prevent criminal activity. Surveillance come in other forms than a CCTV camera. There is computer surveillance, Telephone surveillance, Biometric surveillance, aerial surveillance and more. With the increasing speed of computers and the internet it is not only the government and private corporations watching us it is also ourselves. Our culture has changed dramatically over the past two decades. It used to be personal hand held video cameras that recorded those family milestones such as a baby’s first step or a birthday. Now the personal video camera has now turned into the instrument to catch the unexpected, but not in our personal life but the public. So not only has surveillance invaded our privacy we have also made it a part of lives to use surveillance on others. There are many benefits and concerns to surveillance. The debate is what are the true benefits and concerns of surveillance in our society? Audio & Biometric Surveillance

Audio surveillance has been a major component in surveillance monitoring since wiretapping began on telegraph lines. Audio surveillance became more difficult with the introduction of the telephone, as the rate of information increased dramatically. Audio surveillance has become easier with the advancements in recording ability and computing power. Traditionally telephone calls had to be listened to live and transcribed to paper. Today human agents are not required to monitor calls. The first Speech-to-text machines was introduced in 1952, but was restricted to recognizing spoken numbers. Almost sixty years later software now creates readable text from intercepted audio and is then processed by automated call-analysis programs (Charles Piller, 2002). Audio surveillance provides raw information for investigations and has been successful for many law enforcement agencies. In the united states agencies have million dollar contracts that require phone companies to keep all call records easily searchable and accessible (Singel, 2007). The private sector benefits in audio surveillance by using software programs in cal centers that isolate phrases used frequently. These trends can be used by analysts to identify potential problems so actions can be taken. These early identifiers can help reduce call volumes, improve the bottom line, and greatly increase customer satisfaction (Wint). Software based audio surveillance provides a certain amount of privacy. The entirety of an audio recording might be available to listen to, but the huge amount of audio information being produced today means that software has to be used to search for key words. This helps introduce a level of privacy for the public and also gives the general public a higher level of safety. Law enforcement agencies and direct their man power to calls with repeated illegal activity instead of jeopardizing the privacy of the public. With increased power comes increased responsibility. The software searching through audio is controlled by...
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