Surveillance and Social Control – Criminal Justice Research Paper
The most challenging change in our society since September 11th might be the affect increased surveillance has on our society. The government has long been a proponent of increased supervision and
lenient regulations. Given our recent history, the support for such actions has been supported by multiple agencies and the nation’s citizens. Learning from their peers, the government has spent numerous resources to gauge the benefits of CCTV systems. Expanded systems have been used in England and show positive results towards controlling criminal acts. Aided by enthusiasm since September 11th, many private companies have geared themselves towards creation of the next phase of identification tools. In a somewhat separate arena, the military is a continued example of how increased surveillance can aid our country.
Surveillance and Social Control
The world of surveillance is changing daily and since the September 11th attacks, our nation, as well as the world, has seen drastic change. September 11th extinguished the comfort and trust we so thoroughly enjoy and replaced it with a nervous fear. In response, nations, governments, companies and private citizens have opened themselves to more surveillance by third parties. Closed Caption Television (CCTV) is thriving in Europe where they use biometric recognition to monitor public venues. Even the City of London uses a CCTV system integrated with facial recognition software to identify every person who enters the city limits. These ideas have spread to America and during the 2001 Superbowl the City of Tampa used face recognition software to scan every fan attending the game. Most specifically, CCTV offers the greatest possibility of increased social control in the future. Aiding this approach, numerous private companies are jumping at the chance to provide surveillance equipment to the government and investigation businesses. Technology is reach new levels and the depth to which we may be observed is increasing daily. From a different perspective, the entire groundwork for the military is based on a system implementing greater forms of control than what the average citizen faces. However, this might be a very valuable form of social control necessary for our nations defense.
Over the last two years, our nation has seen a flurry of changes regarding surveillance and the effects it has on social control. The government no longer faces the staunch opposition from civil rights groups when they try to increase “Big Brother’s” reach. For now, too many big players, to include Congress, the Office of Homeland Defense and average citizens, are demanding more scrutiny to safeguard our nation. They insist that the government prevents another September 11th from happening. And the results are widespread. Colorado is in the midst of scanning every driver license into a database to match against criminal mug shots. Biometrics, data that vectors personal features such as nose shape, cheek angle and eye positioning, is becoming ever more popular. Currently, the company that brought biometrics to Tampa in 2001, Viisage, has one-third of the market for digital drivers license photos and supports its database with software able to scan 50 million faces per second. Still, that is just the tip of the iceberg because iris scans, fingerprint verification and national identity cards are all being considered. As much as this may seem appropriate to protect our national security, they also open the door to potential abuse. Systems like these, when integrated might someday allow the government to ascertain the whereabouts of any citizen at any time. Even though The Fourth and Fifth Amendments might seem overlookable given our recent history, our current trend challenges the most sacred aspects of our democracy. Regulations have long governed more obvious surveillance methods like wiretapping and illegal searches but are overdue when it comes to addressing these new techniques. Our new course is littered with seemingly less intrusive technologies that have great potential to be taken advantage of.
Closed Caption Television (CCTV)
Most popular in Britain but gaining considerable interest in the United State is CCTV. In Britain, it receives more funding than any other non-criminal justice prevention technique to the tune of $250 million spent from 1999 to 2001. As noted by Doctors Brandon C. Welsh and David P Rarrington in their CCTV research, there are three distinct results possible from widespread use of CCTV (2003). To begin with, crime rates may lower because criminals are deterred by their increased surveillance. Regardless of actual observation, the threat of a watchful “eye” is often enough to deter criminal acts. On the other hand, crime might increase because CCTV could provide a false sense of security to innocent civilians and make them more likely to enter a criminal area. The fact that an illegal act is occurring does not always translate to a response from the CCTV operators or more importantly, the police. Thirdly, use of this system may cause crime to move elsewhere and thus fail to achieve any objectives at all. Simply moving crime from one area to another is not worth the cost to our taxpayers. CCTV creates “the power to watch and potentially intervene in a variety of situations, whether they be criminal or not” (Norris, 1997).
Despite the United Kingdom’s complete submersion into CCTV systems, the results are not entirely promising. A study done by Clive Norris in England examined nearly 900 targeted surveillances over 600 hours using CCTV. The research targeted three distinctly different sites to include a bustling metropolitan city (population: 500,000), a market square in a mid-sized town (pop: 200,000) and a poor inner city borough (pop: 250,000). To further break down the data, Norris established four main objectives of the study:
• Who is surveyed and why and how this is socially differentiated
• The shared working rules developed by operators to determine who and what is surveyed
• The outcome of targeted surveillance and whether it resulted in authoritative intervention
• The vision of future CCTV
Few surveillance guidelines were present at the time of the study, so operators were left to make their own decisions about who to monitor. This undoubtedly led to human bias and interpretation as key focus factors. Results support this conclusion in that the majority of targets were men, particularly if they were young or black (Norris, 1997). Men represented 90% of the observed while black persons were one and a half to two times as likely to be observed as compared to their percentage in the population. Still, the most startling statistic might be that 40% of all individuals surveyed were watched for no apparent reason at all. This resulted largely from categorical suspicion where people were monitored simply because of their social or cultural group.
It appeared that there were seven major working rules shared by the operators in this study. However, these shaky guidelines seemed to stem directly from the stereotypical assumptions used to determine who would be observed. The majority of operators showed negative attitudes towards young black males, individuals who simply appeared to be deviant, those that loitered without any distinguishable motive, drunks, beggars, the homeless, street traders and those that seemed to be “out of time and out of place” (Norris, 1997). Even persons who showed signs of unease or misdirection were subjected to more scrutiny. These methods seem transferable to our society and question our basic right of privacy. If we are watched simply because we are lost or new to our surroundings, our behaviors are bound to change.
The outcomes of the study reveal how few arrests actually resulted from the 881 monitored events. Only forty-five situations resulted in police deployments. Additionally, the majority of these events occurred in the metropolitan city and mid-sized town with only three arrests in the borough. The lack of police intervention was attributed to a disconnect between operators and police and a lack of concrete evidence. While many suspicious activities were observed, police involvement would not have stood up in court. Another factor that limited the filing of criminal charges was police discretion to resolve the situation right there. Often, regardless of what was caught on tape, officers would arrive post-incident and provide a remedy without arresting anyone. On the other hand, the cameras provided a valuable resource and created a form of net widening when it came to fights. Prior to use of CCTV, police responding to a fight would arrive post-incident and have little information to further their investigation. In the present system, police response time would little matter for they could rely on the video to provide the necessary information. During the study, this often resulted in more arrests for fights occurring in the past.
“The gaze of the cameras does not fall equally on all users of the street but on those who are stereotypical predefined as potentially deviant, or through appearance and demeanor, are singled out by operators as unrespectable” (Norris, 1997). With continued use of CCTV, officer stigmatization will only increase towards those meeting predisposed characteristics. Social control is entering a new phase where those individuals who already suffer from increased surveillance will be subjected to even more scrutiny. Revealing how this might affect us all, police reactions showed how misguided this new form of surveillance might be. During operator-initiated deployments, officers often release those that failed to create any truly dangerous situation, despite what the CCTV operators saw. They often found that what was seen on the camera was not as drastic as previously thought and forwent any further actions. The greatest affect of CCTV might be the change in behavior of those in the metropolitan city. The majority of arrests occurred here and the simple threat of police intervention may create a trend toward conformity for the late night dwellers. In fact, the episodes involving the innocents mentioned above will undoubtedly have an affect on their behavior.
Three very specific studies were done by Doctors Welsh and Farrington that show how drastically CCTV affects social control. During their research, they used destinations with newer CCTV systems as experimental areas and similar adjacent areas without CCTV as control groups. Their first area studied was a town center fashioned with 63 cameras and various reporting options. After two years of observation, crime in the experimental area had decreased 21.3%. However, during that same time period, crime increased 11.9% in neighboring control areas. After detailed research targeted at the increase in crime, it was concluded that the results were independent.
In their next study, thirteen subway stations were installed with CCTV and observed for eighteen months. The results were very positive with reported crime down 20% in the experimental groups and 18.3% in the 52 control stations. The only crime that did not decrease in the control group was assault. Their final study occurred in two parking lots on a college campus. Both lots had their bushes trimmed back and improved lighting but only one received a CCTV system. After ten months, crime had decreased by 73.3% in the experimental group and almost entire disappeared (93.8%) in the control group. These studies very blatantly show how CCTV can affect people’s behavior. Each group showed very positive affects from CCTV with only one case having a negative affect on the control group. In her article, Surveillance, Privacy and the Military, Emily Merz sums up the results of this study effectively with “Surveillance functions to monitor and observe groups for the purposes of order, power and social control” (Merz, 2002). The police desired to change behaviors and implemented a surveillance system—the result was a noticeable change in criminal behavior.
“Surveillance is not inherently sinister or malign. But the focused attention to persons and population with a view to influencing, managing or controlling them – that we call ‘surveillance’ – is never innocent either” (Lyon 2002). Feeding into CCTV and taking hold in other venues are changes in surveillance technology. The demand for diverse surveillance techniques has skyrocketed since September 11th and companies can’t keep up with the demand. While use of CCTV in police interrogation rooms likely encourages fair treatment of suspects, it is extended use of this system that threatens our civil rights. Furthering this threat are advances in computer technology, internet monitoring and financial tracking. Iris scanners, fingerprint identification and cameras on downtown streets are just the beginning of this new surveillance era. Still, the need for increased surveillance is very apparent; however concentrating on these areas without knowledge of possible results is a precarious situation.
Specific government entities have entered a new period of surveillance where their means of observation are widespread. Computer technology is creating the most opportunities as the number of people using the internet increases daily. Not entirely new but gaining more and more leeway is CARNIVORE, the internet surveillance program used by the FBI. This system allows the FBI to intercept a wide variety of international information and even monitor all the internet activity of a single person. New additions to this software are PACKETEER and COOLMINER. They would allow the government to decipher encrypted messages and extrapolate data found in emails. Even more obtrusive technology may take hold with the government supported Next Generation Internet Protocol, IPv6. This software aims to provide more secure e-commerce and advanced security measures but includes progressive surveillance methods. If the “master keys” or backdoors are made available to the government, any interaction with the internet could be observed by Big Brother. This would allow access to financial information, transaction histories and money flow. Directly influencing this trend is the continued intelligence sharing between the UK and the US. Dating back to WWII, The United States Sigint System (USSS) has been collaborating with the United Kingdom to monitor worldwide communication mediums.
On the civilian front, numerous companies have jumped at the chance to provide integrated surveillance systems. Most notably, “Larry Ellison, president of the Silicon Valley Company Oracle, offered the US government free smart card software for a national ID system” (Lyon, 2002). Michael Cherkasky, president of the security firm Kroll, has suggested that every American be given a national ID card that would allow the government to determine who and where they are at any time. A coordinated effort between government and private organizations occurred after September 11th when “supermarkets, hotels, traffic control points, credit card transactions and so on – were used to trace the activities of the ‘terrorists’” (Lyon, 2002). Advanced Biometrics Incorporated (ABI) is the leader in hand geometry devices which measure the internal human hand structure to identify persons. This technology is even being explored to prevent unauthorized use of handguns. However revolutionary these tactics may seem, unseen factors have provided undesired results; thus, new technology may not impart the intended control factors.
Social Control in the Military
To consider another direction, maybe surveillance is not such a bad form of social control for some individuals. Used in the military, applicants sacrifice numerous privacies before they even join the armed forces. Before one can enlist, the following histories must be submitted: drug, medical, crime, driving and financial. And that is just the beginning, for daily life in the military brings about a whole new set of rules. Every time you enter or leave certain buildings, you have to swipe a badge noting your presence. Whenever you want to use a computer, you have to log on and consent to being monitored. Likewise, all phones have the capability of being monitored. Even the basic infrastructure of the military encourages surveillance. Your doctor and dentist are part of the military, the financial office that handles every pay transaction is military, you shop on base, you get your haircut on base, you buy your alcohol on base and all your neighbors are military. If you have a weight problem, alcohol problem, tobacco addiction, driving incident or spouse trouble, your boss knows about it. You must submit an HIV test every two years and any other medical abnormalities can be brought to your boss and affect what career path. Work is very exposed in that you understand everyone there is watching and holds you to a higher set of standards. However, as naked and barren as that might seem, it is often a very helping and understanding community. There is a wide variety of individuals who, through one way or another, become aware of your situation; yet, the majority of them are there to help you—in fact, it is their job to help you. There are few aspects of a military life not governed in one way or another. One military member quotes it as a “voluntary subordination of one’s own interests to those of the state” (Neill, 2000).
Still, this is a required sacrifice because of the uniqueness of the military mission. These individuals must submit to various forms of control to be a part of such an organization. We as a nation rely on fast acting soldiers who follow orders and perform their duties to the best of their abilities. We cannot leave National Defense to someone who can’t pay their bills, we don’t want some overweight 40 year old chasing down the enemy and we won’t trust a $30 million plane to some person who has a DUI. The needs of the military are often used as grounds for sacrificing personal human rights, including privacy. The military members must submit to some form of advanced control to complete this mission. Another military aspect that is very different from the civilian world is the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the military legal process. Both the Supreme Court and the JAG realize civilian courts are ill suited to address the disciplinary needs required by the military. Our armed forces have their own set of rules they live by and these courts often pass judgment on life decisions usually protected as personal decisions. Military courts are granted additional powers allowing punishment and discipline suited to meet their needs. Regardless of the reasons, all military members realize a loss of personal control in some form or another and submit to a military, if not social, form of control. One incident that validates increased military surveillance could be the Guantanamo Bay espionage case against an army chaplin. If this soldier truly provided protected information…
In 1983, the Supreme Court held in Kolender v. Lawson that the government could not require citizens to provide “credible and reliable” identification if they had committed no crime other than looking suspicious. However, the systems our nation is considering would allow such identification to occur against anyone. The Governments pursuit of newer, more efficient technology and the eager contributes of private organizations has opened the surveillance flood gates. Even though these methods are validated by September 11th and other crimes across the country, the results may affect us all. The ‘eye’ shows little discernment and its affects will influence everyone’s behaviors. As America evaluates the benefits of CCTV and considers its own widespread use, we must examine how it has affected the UK. The most obvious example is the use of CCTV in England where case studies illustrated how effectively behaviors changed. Whether or not a site was actually monitored by cameras, crime decreased. Despite these positive outcomes, we are faced with a blanket of observation that will undoubtedly affect us all. As the average criminal noticed the presence of cameras in some areas and assumed an overall presence, so would the average citizen. Not knowing who was behind the cameras creates a situation where everyone is bound to change their behavior. And with discussions about wider levels of integration, this formal control technique will change the way we lead our lives.
As stated, more progressive technologies are being pursued from a variety of angles. Most notably, governments around the world are stepping up research into surveillance methods. This situation is only compounded by the growing number of businesses exploring cutting-edge surveillance techniques. We now have funding for research and development from multiple levels leading us into uncharted territory. It appears, at our current pace, there will be few if any facets of our lives free from surveillance. The ramifications of this interest will limit people from making decision without first considering what penalties may be levied against them. However, forms of social control such as this are not all bad. As shown in the military discussion, our nation needs higher levels of surveillance to protect our national security. In fact, without this increased supervision for our military personnel, our nation might not be the superpower it is today. Still, I would maintain that our current attitudes expose us to many reckless situations. Surveillance has its place but it does not belong in every aspect of our daily lives. Without the freedom emphasized by our Constitution our society would begin to resemble a Communist society.
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