Domestic surveillance the old fashioned way: cameras installed on utility poles, watching your home

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“The Government Just Admitted Your Microwave Will Probably Spy on You Someday”

I don’t “nuke” anything, so I have that going for me…

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No reasonable expectation of privacy exists in the 21st Century.


I agree, this is bad news for privacy. Nevertheless, I think the courts got it right.

If instead of being mounted on a pole there had been a person holding the camera, there would be no question about the legality or morality of the evidence collection. Houston shouldn’t have had a gun and so I have very little sympathy for the guy.

I think about it this way: taxi and truck drivers are about to lose their jobs to robot cars. Think of a camera-on-a-pole as the first wave of robot deputies. Welcome to the future, you better follow the rules.


Can the camera mounted on the pole see things that a pedestrian or person in a vehicle can’t?

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I would have thought so, but I suppose it depends on how it’s angled.

And whether there is a hedge or wall intervening…

Yes, by its very nature of being always on and always vigilant.

I wonder if the judge would like one aimed at his house. But I guess if you are doing nothing wrong…


I think this is correct: the availability or lack of manpower isn’t a Constitutional issue. But reflecting on the possibility and ramifications of ubiquitous surveillance is a genuine threat to privacy unimagined by past editors of the Constitution, and it is high time that it was addressed. The question is, how?

Perhaps we need to accept that any governmental surveillance, physical or otherwise, must be warranted. If current warranting is genuinely onerous for routine stakeouts then perhaps that process should be made easier, although with the Patriot Act’s retroactive warrant applications that’s hard to imagine.


I think it has been addressed by the courts. A lot of it boils down to what expectation of privacy do you have in any particular place? Ubiquitous surveillance moves the bar and so there are places where an individual may have had an expectation of privacy 25 years ago and today that expectation is reduced.

In this particular case, Houston’s shenanigans were visible from a nearby public road. There’s no way he should have expected privacy.

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I think the issue is that this opens to the door to ubiquitous street surveillance, and that creates ubiquitous opportunities for abuse, and effectively chills public behavior beyond law-breaking in an unacceptable fashion.


But are the changes good or bad?

Cory Doctorow would know a lot more about this than I since he lived in one of the most heavily monitored cities on earth. How have the costs and the benefits of ubiquitous surveillance in London stacked up? Is it a cautionary tale, or does it support the value of monitoring? I really have no idea.

Plus, I think we need to remember that the rules for government are different than they are for you and I. I drive around with a dash cam or helmet cam all the time. I wear a gizmo that takes a photo every 30 seconds all day. A neighbor of mine built a license plate reader to log all traffic in our neighborhood. The tech exists and is more accessible all the time but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for a government to utilize that technology against its citizens.


Huh. When I saw the headline, I assumed it was a story from the UK…

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