Canadians should be concerned about camera surveillance: report

A new report by the Surveillance Camera Awareness Network (SCAN) at Queen's University shows that Canadians believe surveillance cameras promote safety, but their perceptions don't match the actual evidence. The first of its kind in Canada, A Report on Camera Surveillance in Canada will be used as background to help structure new federal surveillance legislation.

"There is little or no evidence that surveillance deters crime," says David Lyon, coordinator of the report and director of the school's new Surveillance Studies Centre. "Media such as TV police shows and crime stoppers promote the perception that cameras are more important than they really are."

The report looks at the rapid growth of surveillance in Canadian society based on studies about:

  • The lack of Canadian legislation addressing public camera surveillance
  • Camera surveillance as big business
  • An exploration of camera operators
  • Research on public opinions about camera surveillance
  • Camera surveillance as one of the legacies of hosting the Olympic Games
  • Camera surveillance in Ottawa taxicabs
  • Camera surveillance in shopping malls
"The public should be concerned," adds Professor Lyon. "Surveillance technology is constantly changing. Closed-circuit television does not accurately describe it anymore; now surveillance footage is increasingly digitized and free to flow online. What stops are in place to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands? We need to question the social ethics of surveillance footage as well as establish legal limits on how the footage can be used."

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Provided by Queen's University
Citation: Canadians should be concerned about camera surveillance: report (2010, January 14) retrieved 20 October 2019 from
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Jan 15, 2010
Surveillance Camera Awareness Network??? Professor Lyon is just feeding on the paranoid mentally ill in his quest for fame and fortune IMHO.
This is a NONE-ISSUE. Who cares if your image is recorded while your driving down the road...if you're not doing anything wrong.
Society has to take a stand against crime once and for all. And what would be wrong with having each and every person's DNA on file as well? It should be taken at birth and become part of your permanent ID record...people should not have a "right" to commit crimes. THAT is what's wrong with society today!

Jan 15, 2010
The problem with having DNA on file is called the Gattaca(sp?) paradigm, made popular by the movie of the same title (based on a novel).

If your DNA is on file and available for public access, what prevents that information from being used against you, similar to a medical record, when the time comes? There is a little bit to be afraid of, maybe not at our current level of technology, but very soon.

Not just surveillance by cameras that is Dr. Lyon concern or even DNA, but the whole tracking of individuals in a supposedly 'free society'.

This used to be the meat and drink of bad movies/novels about the evils of totalitarian states. To use a different book that Phelankell, it is a Big Brother is Watching situation. Now Big Brother is not even the government - it is independent operators.

The meme of "if you ain't committed no crime you got nothin to worry about" falls very short of protecting either our safety or our freedoms.

Jan 16, 2010
People are innocent until proven guilty. I think that is written in every constitution on the world.
And by the way, people DO have the right to commit crimes, laws are rules we as society accept to keep the society going. But they change over time, so if what today is banned tomorrow is allowed and vice versa, how could you say people do not have the right to break the law. They do have that right, and the society has the right to enforce punishment as agreed by everyone. Laws are not universal and absolute, they are secondary. They are part of commonly accepted deal of limiting freedom of guilty individuals for the sake of the society as a whole. But there is no fundamental meaning to them. Nor a fundamental reason to obey them. If you decide not to, then you will be punished. But it's you who decides, you who commit, and you who will be punished or not. Free will, guys!

Jan 18, 2010
@frajo> It is not a part of western law, but it is a part of western law enforcement practice.

DGBEACH, I hope you are trolling and not at all serious with your opinions stated therein.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

Jan 18, 2010
AFAIK there is no western law which assumes everyone to be guilty until proven otherwise.

Does this extend to the American Patriot Act - or is kidnapping, encarceration and torture on mostly a whim reserved for non-Americans?

The usage of these cameras I am thinking of is not in a legal realm, even if abuses there are not hard to conjure up, but for private utility.

Anti-abortionists take photos/videos of people going into abortion clinics (a legal act) and send them to their relatives or publish them: they photograph the doctor's business and homes and these photos are sometimes used to assault and murder.

Maybe there should be 'no camera zones' legislated???

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