Breaking News: One of the two suspects implicated in the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred on Monday April 15th was shot and killed in a police shootout today. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/19/us/boston-area-violence/index.html) Only 3 days after the bombings, not only have the suspects been successfully identified, but one is now deceased. If we look at the Atlanta Centennial Park bombing on July 27th, 1996 perpetrated by Eric Robert Rudolph we see that on October 14th, 1998 Rudolph was formerly named as a suspect and was arrested on May 31st, 2003! After seven years he was finally in captivity but not before planting three more bombs, one of them killing a police officer and seriously injuring a nurse. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Rudolph)
Without a doubt one of the significant differences between these two events, besides almost two decades is the proliferation of the presence of cameras, most notably the digital type. Not just digital cameras but CCTV camera systems on the streets and in and around businesses and other public establishments. With today’s technology advancements we have the ability to record almost every inch and every hour of any major North American city.
As authorities began to unravel the events of the Boston Marathon bombings they immediately began focusing on this digital record. Not only did they start going over the footage from the CCTV cameras installed along the route of the marathon but they also asked the public to submit all photographs they may have taken in the vicinity. Authorities went an unprecedented step further stationing officers at Boston’s Logan Airport stopping travellers at the departure gates and viewing the photographs they had snapped if they were at the event. In only a few days law enforcement had released photographs and video of the two suspects they believed were responsible for planting the explosive devices killing three and injuring hundreds. By the 18th of April, one is dead and the other is still at large, but with a net so tight his freedom can only be counted in hours.
This leads to my question, is the mere presence and proliferation of this digital record diminishing our freedom as a society, invading our right to privacy or is it to be viewed as an evolutionary step needed to safeguard our freedom? Either way as of today, the legal view is that there is no invasion of privacy as long as images recorded are done in such a way that there is no “expectation of privacy”. The act of walking down a public street, entering a public area of a business or entertainment implies there is no expectancy of privacy and the images are public knowledge. This is the mainstay of the paparazzi industry; anything captured in public view is fair game although celebrities will argue this is an invasion of privacy. I would debate that it is distasteful to camp outside of a celebrity’s home in hopes of capturing an unflattering image worth thousands of dollars. (http://media.gunaxin.com/britney-spears-circus-comeback/4590)
As for my question of it being an invasion of privacy or necessity of our day – being a security industry professional I will let you decide which side of the argument I am on. In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers go out to the dead and injured as well as their families in this terrible and difficult time. To law enforcement, please take care and we appreciate your dedication, courage and pursuit of justice and preservation of our freedom.