Security surveillance is an important part of ensuring security in the world today. Surveillance technology develops every other day and the most popular is the facial surveillance cameras as explained by Wendy Kaminer in 2002, in her article, “Trading Liberty for Illusions.” (Kaminer, 2002)The second mode of security surveillance cameras that monitor the micro-features of people like posture and suspicious body movement as written in the article by, “Looks could kill,” published in The Economist, in 2008 (The Economist, 2008). The two readings have paid close attention to the freedom and liberty of people being overlooked and violated in the name of security. According to Kaminer, the sense of security has not been well explained to people, she stresses the fact that people get comfortable with “illusions” of security rather than real security. According to the article on, The Economist, the security surveillance features need to be developed further to ensure that they do not raise false alarms by wrongfully profiling people from racially profiled regions. The articles share the view that the law enforcement units are likely to waste these resources by misusing the security surveillance equipment for other purposes like harassing members of the public and stalking women as indicated in the article by, The Economist. Both articles share the concern of the security surveillance features being used inadequately to protect the safety of the American citizens while at the same time being used to racially profile people from certain cultures.
Effectiveness of security surveillance systems
The two articles share a common view of the security surveillance systems in which they see the possibility of the systems being less than effective due to errors of detection and judgement on the part of the people manning the systems. For instance, in The Economist, the surveillance systems may wrongfully raise alarm of an innocent nervous individual pacing in a hall way. This is because the system has been developed to note any out of the ordinary body movements as well as seemingly suspicious movement by people. “Loitering in a stairwell, however, is a rarer occurrence that may warrant examination by human security staff.” (The Economist, 2008) This can make people feel harassed and their rights ignored if the human security staff decide to arrest and interrogate everybody that is flagged down by the security systems. In Kaminer’s article, it is also evident that the facial security surveillance cameras can make errors in flagging down innocent people. Similar facial features may cause a security personnel to flag down an individual who is believed, without proof, to have information valuable to the security personnel. “It included people the police were interested in questioning in the belief that they might have “valuable intelligence.”” (Kaminer, 2002) The two readings concur on the possibility of the security surveillance failing under the watch of the human security staff manning them.
How genuine the security surveillance systems are
The article by Kaminer highlights the problem that is caused when people are insecure and accept any show of enforcing security to feel safer even when it is an illusion. In this article has indicated the fact that security enhancing features are sometimes illusions of security assurance features. “History shows that frightened people tend to assume that restrictions on liberty make them safe.” (Kaminer, 2002) For instance; people may have their privacy invaded by the police in pretext of security checks while a police officer only wants to gain access to a certain area. People being afraid of terrorist attacks will always easily give away their rights to privacy in exchange for an illusion of security. The Economist, on the other hand focuses on the possibility that the security surveillance systems may be successful because of the kind of focused directed towards a person. The argument that these systems only scan features and not the person is expected to reduce the tendencies to racially profile people based on their appearances. However, the fact that terrorists are usually catching on to technology, these systems may be less than accurate as per this article. “Terrorists are often trained to conceal emotions; micro-emotions, however, are largely involuntary.” (The Economist, 2008) In such a case, if a terrorist is well trained and is confident about their appearance, they can easily cheat the surveillance systems and go scot free.
Security surveillance and privacy
Finally, the article by Kaminer has a concern that the surveillance systems can be threats to people’s privacy in the sense that the security staff abuse their positions to have their way with the civilians. They tend to become more of a threat to the privacy of people as opposed to being an assurance for security, Kaminer documents in her article (Kaminer, 2002). This surely goes against the expectations of people that every time they look into these cameras, somebody behind them is taking care of their safety. Instead, when these officers use these cameras to stalk their lovers and women, it undermines the true security status of the town. In The Economist the probability of the security staff failing to notice suspicious movements in people is expected to be solved by this technology. The technology described in The Economist is developed well enough to detect the movement of a person carrying items equal in weight with explosives, it also trails people who drop packages in the streets and many more movements are likely to be detected (The Economist, 2008). These two article have turned a keen eye on the security personnel. Their ability to use the technology to safeguard the security of citizens has to be genuine and the integrity of these officers be natural.
To conclude, the two readings present a state of affairs that is certifiable. Kaminer’s article is critical of the systems used for surveillance and the level to which they are genuine. This article clearly points out the fact that in a bid to ensure security to the American citizen, the privacy rights of the same people are violated day in, day out. People think that allowing these cameras into their homes is ensuring safety while on the other hand the security personnel may use these access to satisfy their own desires. The article on, The Economist, focuses on an ideal surveillance system by the Department of Homeland Security. If this system works perfectly, the end to all security surveillance problems will be achieved. The intelligence of this system is expected to be as good as human intelligence with extra-ordinary abilities. If the Department of Homeland Security truly has developed it to completion, terrorism in the United States is about to be a thing of the past. The two authors make valid points about the state of security in the United States amid all the threats the country faces. The 9/11 attack has triggered the development of extra-ordinary security surveillance efforts by the government. All this is in a bid to prevent further attacks from both within and without the country.
Kaminer, W. (2002). Trading Liberty for Illusions. In W. Kaminer, Privacy and Technology: Balancing Public Safety and Privacy (pp. 397-399).
The Economist. (2008, October 23). If Looks Could Kill. Retrieved from The Economist: www.economist.com/node/12465303
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