An act that is punishable by law can be called as a crime. Many acts like trafficking, smuggling, hijacking, kidnapping and terrorism can be considered as examples of crime. [R1][R2]
Nowadays rate of crime has been increasing enormously. Modern technological development and tremendous progress in communication have felicitated criminals of every corner of the world to commit a crime using perverted equipment in one place and then escape/migrate to another place. From this we can come to an understanding that modern technology has been a key tool in many crimes. Unfortunately effects of these crimes are being identified both in developed and developing countries as well. So, prevention of such crimes has become one of the most challenging tasks for all countries. If police and investigators can make use of modern technology to stop or prevent crimes to be happened, then the mankind would have peaceful living with ultimate happiness.
Though the reasons for every crime are distinct, the ultimate victims will be common citizens. So, every government should take sufficient measures to eliminate crime from the society.
Understanding ways to control crime:
We all know that prevention is better than cure. It is proven to be productive. So, even when it comes to crime, preventing crime can be most fruitful than helping victims after a crime is being committed. Based on this fundamental formula, the countries, which have been suffering from diversified and brutal crimes, are giving utmost importance to the prevention of crime by taking few measures and steps. Two major ways have been implementing to prevent crime. They are
- Traditional policing
- Community policing
Traditional policing consists of officers/employees answering calls for service. Traditional methods of policing rely heavily on visible presence of the police on patrol. Though it helps people to some extent, but due to the fact that crime is still being identified in every nook and corner of every country, this theory still needs to do something more or should change its structure and concept if required. In this method people’s involvement is almost nothing. But to some extent traditional policing creates a bit confidence among common citizens, as they can get direct assurance from the cops.
Community policing is a strategy in which people/communities role is vital and would help prevent/identify crime. Cops tend to get crucial information about criminals and their activities from common citizens in this strategy. Moreover some tools also have a role in community policing. They are
- SURVEILLANCE(Close observation of a person or group)
- WORKING IN COGNITO (By involving others)
Though several such tools like “SURVEILLANCE” and “WORKING IN COGNITO” are available, in a few cases these tools are unable to make their presence felt. Policemen do believe that root cause for any crime is ‘victim’s own behavior’. Due to either irresponsibility or lack of interest or lack of time, many people are not closely observing ill behavior of their neighbors. Therefore to keep the state’s eyes and ears open towards crime being committed within the community, UK took over the ‘Neighborhood Watch’ scheme in 1982.
By 1984 it was clear that growth of ‘Neighborhood Watch’ has been pretty good. From then implementation of surveillance started to increase tremendously. Role of technology also started increasing since 1984. One of the most fruitful technologies has been ‘CCTV’ technology. Cops started breathing easily since CCTVs introduced as they help in finding culprits easily.
CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been playing a vital role in help preventing crime at very early stages. So, microphones were also added to those CCTVs for further better results. [R3][R4]
Function Creep can be best defined as unintended outcomes of a product, procedure or program originally designed for a specific cause/purpose.
When a new technology is introduced to do one thing (one function), and is later used for an entirely different thing, then it is also called as function creep.
To get better understanding of function creep let us consider an example where CCTVs are being used. We do find CCTVs in shopping malls to help prevent the thefts. If those CCTVs are used to keep track images of beautiful women, who visit those malls then it will be considered as a function creep.
Many times function creeps are unplanned. The problem comes only when the confidential data goes to the hands of criminals. They might use such confidential data to enhance their crime by blackmailing common citizens. So, the usage of CCTVs has become privacy invader. [R5]
It is further conclusive that function creeps must be eliminated to get ultimate results from any new technology.
Unplanned and planned function creep:
In order to keep track of all the vehicles entering and leaving a particular area, police are given live access to London’s congestion charge cameras. The reason behind this is to identify presence of terrorists.
In this particular case, in many ways function creep is going on. First and foremost of them can be policemen using closed circuit cameras even for general surveillances. No one can digest the fact that he/she is being observed by hawk eyes of cameras every time everywhere. It is nothing but invading privacy of common people. It will come under violating human rights. But, policemen have been giving their explanation as they are only doing this for the welfare of the people. Unfortunately it’s not. In one way or other, CCTVs help in reducing the duties of police. So, it can be described as unplanned Function Creep.
Few owners of shopping malls have been using CCTV cameras to identify lazy workers, though the only reason behind installing CCTVs is to prevent thefts. It is a beast example for planned function creep.
Therefore it is conclusive that when CCTV alone is so assailable for Function Creep, CCTV with microphone’s vulnerable to function creep is huge. [R6]
CCTV stands for Closed Circuit Television. CCTVs consist of video cameras to capture images/video of people’s moves and actions. They are mostly useful in surveillance.
With the increase in corporate competition and development, many companies are realizing the necessity to not only protect their data/information, but their human resources as well.
Traditional CCTV systems require a separate functionality that uses coaxial cable. This cable is to enhance point-to-point transmission of video from a camera to a recorder. The development of digital video allowed the advancement to fiber optic and twisted pair cables. These image streams are stored in a digital format on other computer or servers. So, the end users can view entire zone or a particular place by sitting at one system. Advanced CCTVs consists of microphone to record the audio along with video to give added advantage to the end users.
As a part of improving security system, UK government introduced the usage of CCTVs for surveillance of public. It is a fact that “there are around 4.5 million CCTV cameras in Britain, one for about every 14 people, which capture the average person around 300 times a day”.
Police are the major users of these systems where as we can also find them in shopping malls, banks, restaurants and even in cinema theaters. Cases have shown that criminals also use such hidden cameras in ATM centers to keep track of passwords of the user accounts to steal money. It shows that CCTVs are vulnerable to such threats. But still they are widely used.
CCTV opponents point out that CCTV does not reduce crime but displaces it. Many argue that CCTVs must not be placed in private places as it is nothing but invading privacy of respectable citizens. But they do appreciate the usage of those cameras only in public places to reduce evil activities.
“The ‘Data Protection Act’ 1998 in the United Kingdom has imposed legal restrictions on the usage of CCTV recordings, and also mandated their registration with the Data Protection Agency”(Jan Harris,2009). In 2004, the successor to the Data Protection Agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also emphasized the need for registration of all CCTV systems with the Commissioner, and prompt deletion of archived recordings. [R7][R8][R9]
ICO (Information commissioner’s office):
“The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
It does help people in four different aspects. They are
- Finding out what personal information is held about the person who visits it.
- Access information from a public body
- Prevent unwanted sales calls and spam emails.
- Finding out the information about the environment” [R10]
They also take several safety measures to keep data of citizens more confidential.
ICO’s role on CCTV voice recording technology
The information commissioner Richard Thomas launched a new code of practice to ban hidden microphones installed in CCTV cameras. He believes that “the microphones in CCTV cameras can listen in to private conversations are a serious breach of civil liberties”. So, he strongly emphasized on banning the usage of microphones in shopping malls and all public places. He further stated that anyone who violates this code will be punishable by the law. But he has given an exception to the cops in extremely severe circumstances to use such microphones. This decision was widely appreciated by the government ministers, general public and civil liberties campaigners as well.
So, it is conclusive that ICO stands against to the usage of microphones in CCTV technologies. At the same time they encourage the usage of CCTVs in reducing crime with several restrictions. [R11][R12]
Ethical Model 1- UTILITARIANISM
“A system of ethics based on the premise that something’s value may be measured by its usefulness; the theory that action should be directed toward achieving the “greatest happiness for the greatest number of people”; hedonistic universalism” [R13]
The people who support/follow Utilitarianism believe a quote that “it is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied”. From this we can understand the theme of Utilitarianism that it suggests us to concentrate more on people’s welfare rather than people’s interests.
Two types of Utilitarianisms are widely known to public. They are ‘act utilitarianism’ and ‘rule utilitarianism’.
“Act utilitarianism states that, when faced with a choice, we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions and, from that, choose to do what we believe will generate most pleasure”. [R14]
“The rule utilitarian, on the other hand, begins by looking at potential rules of action. To determine whether a rule should be followed, he looks at what would happen if it were constantly followed. If adherence to the rule produces more happiness than otherwise, it is a rule that morally must be followed at all times”. [R13]
Utilitarian believes that one must give utmost importance to ‘happiness’ than ‘pleasure’. So, they always support things that help prevent evil activities than privacy factor of humans. [R13]
How Does Utilitarianism view CCTV voice recording Technology?
As usage of CCTV voice recorders help in identifying criminals Utilitarianism view it as an essential act to follow. Though it permanently affects the privacy of citizens, this fact is negligible in terms of Utilitarianism.
So the Utilitarianism views the usage of CCTV cameras with voice recorders as an essential act to follow.
Whether this ethical theory stands correct or not – Both sides of the argument
We have already come to a conclusion that Utilitarianism supports the usage of CCTV cameras. Let’s consider both positive as well as negative impacts of CCTV cameras on the public.
Statements in favor of Utilitarianism stand:
- Usage of CCTV cameras with microphones can damage all the ill activities of criminals and it also helps in reducing the crime rate of a country in longer time period.
- When anyone raises a fact that it causes privacy breach of other individuals, people who follows Utilitarianism strongly denies the argument by saying that peaceful living is always productive when compared with private living.
- It strongly recommends the usage of CCTV cameras as they are only intended to record information of people when they are in public rather than in private places.
Statements against the Utilitarianism stand:
- It is conclusive that this theory would concentrate only on end result and is deaf to the inner voices of the public. Due to this people tend to oppose this theory.
- It doesn’t really bother about the privacy of the public though it is a basic human right.
Though people oppose this theory, it just believes that anything can be strictly imposed on public if it really helps for their welfare.
Ethical model 2 – Relativism
Relativism can be best described as “the tendency to make right/wrong choices only on the basis of what looks right or reasonable according to one’s own belief or value system”. [R15]
Moreover relativism is the idea that some elements or aspects of experience or culture are dependent on, other elements or aspects.
The following statements would give a better idea of what Relativism is all about.
- “That’s true for you but not for me.”
- “You can’t judge other cultures by the standards of your own.”
Many relativists argue that humans can understand and evaluate beliefs and behaviors only in terms of their cultural or historical beliefs.
Ethical relativism stands against the statement “that there is a single moral standard, which applies to all people, all times, and all places”.
From the above it is conclusive that relativism is against measuring and evaluating every individualist’s deed on the basis of single truth. [R15][R16]
How Does Relativism view CCTV voice recording Technology?
Relativism does view the usage of CCTV voice recording technology as a misdeed, as they generally keep track of moments and speech of each and every individual with a suspicious eye.
It strongly opposes the way police use CCTV voice recording technology in figuring out a criminal in millions of people by suspecting each one’s behavior.
Whether this ethical theory stands correct or not – Both sides of the argument:
Most of the times relativism can be considered as a correct ethical theory to view any phase of life.
Statements in favor of the relativism stand
- It recognizes the difference in the status of criminals and common citizens and respects the private space of the latter.
- It is a fact that if CCTV cameras are not banned then the society will be losing privacy due to the mass surveillance and is nothing but violation of human rights.
- Extensive usage of CCTV technology people do get a psychological fear that they are being observed. It will somehow or the other affects the peaceful living.
- If microphones are also enhanced in CCTV cameras the results could be even worse when common people stop having even a minimal conversation in public places with a fear of being observed recorded.
- If some important and confidential conversations are recorded then there will be a threat of losing confidentiality.
Statements against the relativism stand
- No one can deny the fact that banning CCTV with microphones would result in enormous growth in rate of crime.
- It is crystal clear that banning such a great invention like CCTV will reduce the versatility and innovation in technology.
- We must blame the government in misplacing cameras even in private places rather than blindly blaming CCTV cameras.
- The banning CCTV cameras would result in employing huge number of cops for patrolling in public places and it will be a burden on government.
Though it is a barrier in identifying the criminals, it strongly opposes the implementation of any act on public if it directly or indirectly affects privacy of common citizens.
By comparing the two ethical theories Utilitarianism and Relativism in terms of usage of CCTV cameras with microphones, we cannot come to a close ended conclusion, because both these models emphasize pros and cons in banning CCTV cameras with microphones.
If at all we are supposed to choose only one of these two models Relativism is a bit overweighed when compared with Utilitarianism. To get even better understanding let’s see what exactly they tend to preach.
Utilitarianism states that “the consequence of banning CCTV voice recorders would be losing the thread in identifying criminals”.
Relativism preaches that “If the CCTV cameras are not banned then the society will step into the mode of mass surveillance”. It would further results in violating human rights of the citizens.
In my point of view if government can take a few security measures other than usage of CCTV cameras to reduce the rate of crime, banning CCTV cameras with microphones will be a good decision.
If government of UK cannot take other security measures, I would suggest them to just install CCTV cameras only in public places rather than private places to make people feel better.
- Crime Control paper, http://ncthakur.itgo.com/crimecontrol.pdf
- Jan Harris, December 4, 2009. http://www.cctvcore.co.uk/cctv/cctv
- Siemon, February 11, 2004, CCTV and Video Surveillance Over 10G ip™”. http://www.siemon.com/us/white_papers/03-10-29-cctv.asp
- Jan Harris, ICO bans CCTV voice recording. http://www.cctvcore.co.uk/28-01-2008-ico-bans-cctv-voice-recording.html
- Mr Chris Swoyer , Feb 2, 2003 Relativism,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/
- Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., retired from the Department of Philosophy, Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, California 91401-4096, DrKelley at AOL.com http://www.friesian.com/relative.htm
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