Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Houston police chief wants cameras in homes

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer via SlashDot:

In one of the most blatant and frightening statements made on privacy, the Associated Press reports that Houston's police chief wants surveillance cameras in apartment buildings and even private homes. Chief Harold Hurtt wants building permits to require cameras in shopping malls and large apartment complexes. He also wants them in private homes if the homeowner has called the police repeatedly. So, if you're in Houston, don't call the cops too much, or they might install a camera the next time they show up. And what does Hurtt have to say about privacy concerns?

"I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?"

While I am a big supporter of security cameras everywhere and of the "Only the guilty have anything to hide" philosophy, I do think that what you do inside your own home ought to be private, unless you're breaking the law. Maybe putting cameras in criminals' homes (as part of the parole process or something) might be doable (one could argue they gave up their right to privacy once they committed a crime), but in the houses of people who call the police a lot? C'mon!

But the story does not end here. From BoingBoing:

Matt Asher is offering a $1000 reward to the "first person who can provide definitive videotaped evidence of Houston police chief Harold Hurtt committing a crime, any crime."

This is in response to a Seattle Post Intelligencer article reporting that Hurtt wants to install surveillance video cameras "in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes."


I think it should be fairly easy to nab Mr. Hurtt committing a crime, as I believe it is still a city statute in Houston that one must make a 360-degree survey of any car one intends to start to verify that no children are under the vehicle or threatened by it. If you post this, hopefully someone can come up with verification and other bizarre laws in this city that it should be easy to observe him breaking.

That link again (to the "Hurtt Prize") is Brilliant! Sousveillance at its finest! (Maybe in the future I will blog about sousveillance, probably as part of an upcoming post on The Transparent Society).

PS: I think this is starting to become a tradition, but here is a picture of the dude I'm talking about, Houston police chief Harold Hurtt:


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