The “CommunityCam” project recently came to my attention by way of an e-mail from one of the project members.
It’s a crowdsourcing effort to identify security cameras that observe the public right-of-way. The motivation of the project is to make it easier to generate evidence in the case of a crime or incident (video of a hit-and-run for example). The project has mapped close to 2,000 cameras in the Portland area.
While the aim of the project seems laudable, and doesn’t in itself impinge privacy (it only maps cameras that already exist for other purposes – and only identifies the location – no video is actually exposed), the shear number of cameras kind of blows my mind.
We seem to be headed toward a point where private or government cameras may observe the entire public right-of-way. What does that say about our society?
A segment this week on the NPR program “On the Media” highlights this issue in the light of use of such videos in the Boston bombings. It paints a picture of what could happen if this video gets aggregated at some point.