prominent argument made in favor of public camera surveillance tools is the
improvement of public safety. Surveillance cameras allow law enforcement authorities
to monitor public spaces, identifying potentially-suspicious individuals who
might be in the process of committing a crime, and attending to these
individuals before the occurrence of any harm. They also act as a deterrence tool for future offenders.
When individuals are constantly aware of being monitored, especially in public
commercial settings such as stores, or marketplaces, they are less likely to
commit a felony for fear of being caught. This reduces crime rates in cities,
and creates a more safe and secure public setting.
argument for public camera surveillance is the facilitated collection of
evidence of a criminal offence. Surveillance cameras allow law enforcement or
governments to present incriminating, reliable evidence for convicting felons.
It also provides a useful resource for collecting identifying information about
fugitive culprits. This aids the investigation and capture process by police
forces, and prevents the onset of future harm by these individuals. This
creates major benefits in big cities like Toronto, for instance.
society members find surveillance cameras useful in supervising and maintaining
safe road conditions. Since traffic-related felonies tend to affect a wider
scope of individuals, beyond only those who are committing the felony, people
find that road surveillance helps deter individuals from committing those
felonies and harming themselves as well as other members of the community.
Traffic cameras have also facilitated the acquisition of real-time information
about traffic conditions in situations where that information is necessary for
certain groups of society.
All of the
previous arguments use principles of an act utilitarianism argument. They all
agree that the use of surveillance cameras creates the greatest benefit for the
greatest number of people. Therefore, given the utility of these cameras, it is
moral for governments, or public institutions in general, to implement and
utilize them. On the other hand, a number of arguments was made against the use
of public surveillance cameras. Most of these arguments use elements of
cultural relativism and the social contract theory.
important of the arguments made against surveillance cameras is the argument of
privacy invasion. Many individuals argue that surveillance cameras violate
their individual privacies; with the ability to keep track of a person’s every
step in public while they are in view of these cameras. Privacy advocates in
the Canadian society find that surveillance cameras create a breach of their
privacy rights, especially when coupled with the fact that most people are not
consciously aware, or sufficiently informed, that they are being constantly
watched. This issue creates great waves of discomfort, and feelings of distrust,
to proponents of privacy in society, and therefore, by cultural relativism, the
use of surveillance cameras is immoral.
find that the abuse of security surveillance cameras is a major argument
against their heavy use. There are cases where surveillance camera footage may
be misused by individuals for ill motives, such as spying or blackmail. These
issues generate sources of terror to society members; where they are unaware
which entities are collecting security footage, or if appropriate safety
measures are in place to prevent such incidences from occurring. Since the
general public is mostly unaware of the laws governing surveillance in Canada,
these issues can be major sources of distress. Since individuals have a right
to the keeping of their personal information private, then, using an argument
of the social contract theory, the use of these cameras is improper in several
some individuals question the effectiveness of security surveillance cameras.
They argue that even though, in a number of cases, individuals are aware of
being watched, this has not deterred some from making their attacks or
committing crimes. The reliability of the deterrence benefit expected from
these cameras is therefore questionable. They also express that given the
expensive costs of these tools, it is doubtful that their benefit outweighs the
costs that they require, as well as discomfort that they cause.