[EDITORIALS]‘Yes’ to street camerasThe best way of minimizing damage from crime is taking preventive measures. The measures, however severe they might be, cannot revoke the damages from crime.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government, after a meeting with district heads, decided to expand the areas where closed-circuit television cameras are installed if residents in the neighborhoods agree. Closed-circuit television systems cannot prevent accidental or irrational crimes, but it is proven that the system is effective in holding down crime. The test operation of a system in Liverpool in England and Seoul’s Nonhyeon-dong have proven such effects of the system. Although we recognize that the closed-circuit television system is liable to violating basic human rights, for example, by treating people as potential criminals, we believe that the decision taken by the Seoul government is an unavoidable policy option for the protection of the life and property of residents.
But it is not at all pleasant to live in a world of “Big Brother,” where surveillance cameras watch and record every movement of residents, even if we consider safety to be the foremost value in our life. Moreover, there is a possibility that personal information of innocent individuals will be leaked, depending on the management of the system, from camera installation to safekeeping of recorded tapes. That is the reason countries like Denmark and Canada prohibit, by law, operating surveillance cameras without notifying people that they are being filmed, even if it is for the purpose of crime prevention.
Therefore, we think “agreement of residents” is not sufficient as a precondition for expanded installation of surveillance cameras. More systematic and consistent principles should be established first. Detailed rules and principle to be applied to such things as designating crime-prone areas, confirmation that residents agree, selecting places for camera installation, regulations on safekeeping of recorded tapes and penalties for leaking personal information, should be prepared. The people’s right to be safe from crime and protection of personal information can be pursued at the same time.