News / USA

Boston Bombing Sparks Surveillance Camera Debate

Boston Bombing Sparks Surveillance Camera Debatei
X
April 25, 2013 12:02 AM
In the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, a debate has erupted over whether more surveillance cameras should be introduced. It's an issue that's been debated in Britain for many years - a country with one of the highest densities of CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras in the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the battle between privacy and public protection.
Boston Bombing Sparks Surveillance Camera Debate
Henry Ridgwell
The suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon were first identified from surveillance camera images. Debate about the use of the cameras has been ongoing for many years in Britain - a country with one of the highest densities of CCTV cameras in the world. 

The FBI released color surveillance camera footage of the Boston bombing suspects three days after the attacks took place.  The video shows two men walking with rucksacks moments before the explosions.  They were quickly identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar.

Pictures of two suspects in Boston bombing (FBI photo)Pictures of two suspects in Boston bombing (FBI photo)
x
Pictures of two suspects in Boston bombing (FBI photo)
Pictures of two suspects in Boston bombing (FBI photo)
​Former FBI Special Agent Peter J. Ahearn says surveillance cameras are one of the primary tools of investigation.

"The first thing you do in any kind of a crisis in an area is you go for the tapes, you go for the video.  The ATM machines, anything on the street and there will be a team of investigators and analysts working that," he said.

At the last count in 2007, there were 147 surveillance cameras operated by Boston city authorities and more than 400 on buses and subways.

Some are calling for more cameras.  Among them is former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani - who cited London as an example, describing it as a virtual "Hollywood studio" of surveillance.

Surveillance or "CCTV" cameras from railway stations were crucial in identifying, within hours, the terrorists who attacked the London transport network in July 2005.

Conservative lawmaker Philip Davies is a strong advocate.

"CCTV is an absolutely crucial tool for the security services and the police," he said, "not just in identifying who was responsible for a crime after the event, but sometimes for actually identifying where people are to try to prevent those people who you have identified at source, knowing where they are so you can cut them off if they are trying something out.”

Estimates vary from around 1.8 million to four million surveillance cameras across Britain. 

"The debate should be about how do we prevent crime," said Nick Pickles, from the organization Big Brother Watch, which campaigns for more privacy. "And if there is one thing that London as a city has proved, it is that CCTV does very little to deter criminals, it does very little to reduce crime levels, and when you have a major security incident like we tragically saw in Boston, CCTV is of very little use preventing these attacks happening.”

Londoners questioned by VOA were broadly supportive of CCTV.

"A lot of crime nowadays is solved because of CCTV, so I am all for it," said one man.

"CCTV is a good thing.  But sometimes it depends on the situation.  Sometimes the police go too far," said another man.

Boston investigators noted the critical role of the public in identifying the suspects.  

"For more than 100 years the FBI has relied upon the public to be its eyes and ears," explains Special Agent Richard DesLauriers from the FBI’s Boston division. "With the media's help, in an instant these images will be delivered directly into the hands of millions around the world.”

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: NVO from: USA
April 25, 2013 10:54 AM
We need LESS Government, LESS TSA putting their hands down your pants, LESS cameras watching the so-called "terrorists". Lets watch the FBI, who STAGED THE BOSTON ATTACK!! Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security. ... Benjamin Franklin.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More