Atlanta is rapidly expanding a system that will give officials access to live video feeds from private security cameras.
The program, called innocently enough “Connect Atlanta,” is an expansion of a surveillance program that started way back in 2011 called “Operation Shield.” The politicians are quick to explain how they have used the surveillance to solve crimes and even locate wandering Alzheimer’s patients, but this is an obvious step toward dystopian futures described in “1984” or that exist in today’s communist China. The most disturbing fact is that we are so eager to accept this invasion. As of this writing, almost 6,000 have Integrated their systems into the city‘s network.
They are calling it the “neighborhood watch of the 21 st Century,” and Mayor Andre Dickens and Interim police Chief Darin Schierbaum are asking more residents and business owners to let the city inside their private camera networks. Once the city has access, anyone involved can watch real-time video from your cameras on a PC, laptop, or even a cell phone. But it gets even worse when you read between the lines.
It is not just real-time video
Hear are some of the quotes from the AJC article:
“The program uses Google Maps to show officers where a crime occurs and how many nearby cameras may have recorded the incident.”
“… businesses can also Integrate their surveillance systems giving police Immediate access to their recordings if something happens …”
“On May 14, Investigators used a combination of city-owned and private cameras to piece together what happened during a shootout Just outside a small northwest Atlanta grocery store …”
How about that. Now the City can hop in and look at recorded video, without a warrant. How convenient.
The government claims that they can’t view “Connect Atlanta” video from a private home (like a Ring doorbell) without your permission, but do you know what arrangement they may have already made with Ring, Arlo, Nest, or any of the other companies that keep your video on their servers? Take a look at this text from Ring’s Terms of Service:
“… you also acknowledge and agree that Ring may access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or third parties, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with applicable law, regulation, legal process or reasonable preservation request; (b) enforce these Terms, including investigation of any potential violation thereof; (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address security, fraud or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property or safety of Ring, its users, a third party, or the public as required or permitted by law.”
Joining the system is voluntary (for now, at least) and people are eager to increase the government’s intrusions into our privacy. It is probably because of the marketing. Here is another quote from the AJC:
“Our technology Is being used to solve crimes and assist the most vulnerable citizens that we have In Atlanta,” Schierbaum said. He said the new system can help his officers identify car thieves and “porch pirates” or even track down murder suspects.
One final note
As you drive around, pay attention to telephone poles along the road and notice how many cameras are aimed in your direction. Did you notice those being installed? Were you asked if it was a good idea?