Friday, June 30, 2006

No Watching the Watchers

Bowling alley, three stores, a gas station and a restaurant—that’s at least six places where security cameras probably recorded my image today. There are definite privacy implications here, but even those of us who feel uncomfortable with the idea of cameras recording too much of the public sphere would agree that such cameras are a godsend to people who live in deteriorating neighborhoods and have already suffered from a few break-ins.

Indeed, if you’re talking about a small apartment building that’s been targeted by criminals, you could even make a case that providing cameras to record the entryways and parking areas is the sign of a responsible landlord trying to keep his tenants safe. Unfortunately this can also get the landlord arrested in New Hampshire, especially if his camera catches an image of a cop doing something wrong. Here’s the story as reported by the Nashua Telegraph:

Michael Gannon, 49, of 26 Morgan St., was arrested Tuesday night, after he brought a video to the police station to try to file a complaint against Detective Andrew Karlis, according to Gannon’s wife, Janet Gannon, and police reports filed in Nashua District Court. Police instead arrested Gannon, charging him with two felony counts of violating state eavesdropping and wiretap law by using an electronic device to record Karlis without the detective’s consent.

The last time I went to New Hampshire, I don’t recall noticing whether Ye Olde Rustick Convenience Store had security cameras or not. But I’m certain the big chain stores did. I wonder if I could get any lawsuit money by going to New Hampshire and visiting a Ye Olde Rustick Wal-Mart?

Probably not, unless I became a cop first. But if I did, good God, I could be so rich:

Janet Gannon said [police] “secured” the house, and told her and her sister-in-law they had to stay out of it from around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday until about 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Police said they were waiting to get a warrant to search the house, Janet Gannon said.“They were waiting for a warrant to seize the cameras and the tapes in my house . . . because they said having these cameras was against the law. They’re security cameras,” she said, adding, “They said they could do that. They could seize my apartment.”

An apartment building would be nice to have, but a Wal-Mart would be even better. Why do I keep saying 'Wal-Mart'? Two reasons: not only do they have a lot of money, they also sold the Gannons the tools for their crimes:

The Gannons installed a video and audio recording system at their home, a four-unit building at 22-28 Morgan St., to monitor the front door and parking areas, family members told police. They installed the cameras about two years ago, buying the system at Wal-Mart, Janet Gannon told the police, according to reports filed in court. The Gannons have owned the property, which is assessed at $382,700, for the past three years, city records show.

To be honest, I don’t think my plan to get rich suing Wal-Mart will work. There’s got to be a loophole exempting big businesses and banks from this law. Even small business owners like the Gannons would probably be forgiven if they had footage of a kid keying a cop’s car or conducting a petty drug sale. It’s just images of police malfeasance that are against the law.


Blogger Taylor W. Buley said...

My last two apartment have had really cool features: in my current room we can watch the front door camera to buzz in, etc. In my last apt you could watch all 4 security channels on the same screen. We'd put on some music, and on a Fri or Sat latenight it can be better than cable (not to mention commerical-free).

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Eric Blair said...

As O'Brien passed the telescreen a thought seemed to strike him. He stopped, turned aside and pressed a switch on the wall. There was a sharp snap. The voice had stopped.

Julia uttered a tiny sound, a sort of squeak of surprise. Even in the midst of his panic, Winston was too much taken aback to be able to hold his tongue.

'You can turn it off!' he said.

'Yes,' said O'Brien, 'we can turn it off. We have that privilege.'

3:27 PM  
Blogger John in Nashville said...

This recalls the joke about the police broadcast that went out about a suspect in the wake of the Rodney King beating: "The man is armed and dangerous--he's got a camcorder."

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi. miss able!
u were my teacher back in 2001 or so at l.h.s.
funny reading that u had a phone sex line.

12:32 AM  

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