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What are the pros and cons of police wearing body cameras?
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Police cameras are susceptible to breaching an individual's privacy and confidentiality

Police cameras are at risk of infringing upon an individual's right to privacy and confidentiality.

The Argument

Over the past six years there has been a great demand for police cameras to be made the norm quickly in light of the police shootings. The use of police body cameras are not universally welcomed. Some human rights campaigners are against the idea of police wearing body cameras as they raise concerns about privacy, especially in light of ethnic minority groups, or in instances where domestic violence is an issue. Body cameras cannot fully be relied on as they may not show the full picture of the incident that is recorded, and can be misconstrued. There are fears that if police departments have control of the footage, the footage can be collated and used later to prosecute minorities. Other critics assert that the use of facial recognition can impinge upon the privacy of individuals, allowing their personal data to be collected leading to their movements and personal information to be traced. If aware, this can discourage individuals from taking part in lawful political activities, such as peaceful protests. [1]

Counter arguments

Although there are concerns about privacy and confidentiality over the use of police cameras, this should not suggest a blanket ban. There is a balance to be struck here between protecting people's privacy, and at the same time promoting police transparency and accountability. As in Illinois, there must be measures that control police discretion on when to record, and when to stop to ensure protection of an individual's privacy. There have been attempts in different states to promote a blanket ban of footage, which is counterproductive to the aims of having a police cameras, and may be open to abuse as they may be disclosed to evidence the position of one side. To avoid this, automated technology that redacts footage should be made available. This provides disclosure, and does not take up departmental resources in redacting the material. An additional safeguard to protecting privacy is to give the more vulnerable, for example, a domestic abuse victim, a say in the filming of the footage. Allowing police to have the discretion creates an environment where a victim, out of fear of themselves, or their loved ones being identified in the footage, will not even call for help. It may also impinge upon privileged conversations. It would therefore be more appropriate to ask a victim as soon as practicable whether they consent to a recording. [2]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 17:59 UTC

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