Floridans Protest Street Cameras
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 15, 2001; 5:30 p.m. EDT
TAMPA, Fla. -- Wearing masks and making obscene gestures at police
cameras, about 100 people protested a new security system that
scans faces in the city's crime-ridden nightlife district to
search for wanted persons.
"Being watched on a public street is just plain wrong," said
May Becker, wearing a bar code sticker on her forehead.
Becker joined demonstrators in the Ybor City district Saturday
night, wearing a sign reading: "We're under house arrest in the
land of the free."
One protester walked by a camera, gestured obscenely and shouted,
Others wore gas masks, Groucho Marx glasses and other items to
protest the FaceIt scanning system police are using in a
neighborhood that attracts 75,000 to 150,000 people on weekend
The video cameras snap pictures of faces in the crowd and compare
them to a database of 30,000 people that includes runaway teens
and wanted criminals. It works by analyzing 80 facial points
between the nose, cheekbones and eyes.
Tampa is the only American city where police use the face-rec
ognition technology for routine surveillance, but Virginia Beach,
Va., is seeking a $150,000 state grant for a similar system.
So far, police say the system has not led to any arrests although
it has been used in Ybor the past two weekends.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press
requirements for a walkin' tour of heavily surveilled neighborhoods:
1) a map of the neighborhood; give out copies to tour participants
2) tour will only cover a small part of mapped area, "the best part(s)"
3) have tour start directly below a camera (city or police-owned is best)
4) tour should last 60 minutes, no reservations, rain or shine, free
5) tour should be well-publicized in advance;
6) tourguide should
-- give out pictures of what surveillance cameras look like (especially 2d
-- explain who is giving the tour and why;
-- explain what the objections to the cameras are (I often read the text of
the 4th Amendment aloud);
-- give a brief history of surveillance camera technology and usage (see below)
My history of camera use/technology
first generation cameras: invented in the late 1930s; first used in
for law enforcement purposes 1959 to 1972, mostly against auto theft;
passive devices; cannot move; require one monitor per camera and one
camera-watcher per monitor; taken down 1972 to 1985 because they weren't
cost effective; cable lines easily damaged by weather, rodents, and human
vandals; operator uses profiling to determine who to look at;
second generation cameras: developed around 1980 (?) by military; passive
devices; can move and point in any number of directions; fewer cameras and
fewer camera-watchers required as a result; put up in USA 1990 to present,
especially in mid-1990s as a result of federal funds/grants concerning
terrorism; can see up to one mile away and can magnify 16 times; some have
infra-red "night vision" capabilities; operator uses profiling to determine
who to look at;
third generation cameras: 2d generation camera combined with computer
interface; automatically compares images to database of faces; every single
face is photographed; no "profiling" used; in use in England and USA
casinos; active devices; fully rotational; digital cameras running over
fiber optic lines;
Cameras of the 2d and 3rd generations may not use cable to transfer
to monitor; may use any number of "wireless" methods including ISDN
telephone lines, IP address (webcams), microwave transmission, lasers and
Transmitting cameras are easy to spot: connected to the camera will
solid lump (square usually) of metal that is clearly not a power supply;
there will also be no cable line leading out.
>Chuck here from AZ. I was thinking of doing a walking tour down on mill
>ave, but I wanted to about are there any specific things that you
>address or do to make the event fun for audience members?