Russian company to set up database of Baltimore’s private surveillance cameras

Here we go again. “Trust us, we’re the government.” Of course they’ll respect the privacy of innocent Americans. Of course they’ll only look at footage if there’s been a crime in the neighborhood. Right. What about the Russians? Will they build the system and leave it alone? From UPI.com:

BALTIMORE, June 19 (UPI) — The U.S. arm of a Russian software firm says it’s created a database to help Baltimore police track down private surveillance video that may help solve crimes.

“We’ve almost completed development of a database application for the IT department of the city of Baltimore, which allows companies to voluntarily register data about security cameras they already own and operate,” Bill Conforti of EastBanc Technologies’ Washington office told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

“So if there’s a crime, the police department can contact the owners of cameras who have registered in the location where the crime was committed” to request access to their video footage for help in solving the crime, Conforti said.

The database, which would strengthen Baltimore’s CitiWatch program of 580 city-operated video cameras, would speed up crime investigations because police “would know which companies’ footage they could request — they would not have to wait for the companies to come forward,” he said.

The database being developed by EBT, based in the southwestern Siberian city of Novosibirsk, is not an active surveillance program, he stressed, because police would only view footage from private cameras registered on the database if they receive a report of a crime in the neighborhood.

The database is nearly ready to be rolled out, he said, but the actual date would be determined by city officials.

And for your further reading pleasure:

FBI tells Congress it uses drones in U.S.

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged Wednesday that the bureau has used unmanned aerial drones for surveillance in the United States and suggested that government needs to develop guidelines as their use grows…

“I think it’s something that the FBI has started to use these drones without any clear policy to protect our privacy,” Calabrese [of the ACLU] said. “Now we have cheap, easily accessible technology to allow law enforcement to spy on us. Law enforcement should only use these drones if they have probable cause.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Senate intelligence committee chair who supports the NSA surveillance programs, echoed Calabrese’s concerns.

“If people are concerned about privacy, I think the greatest threat to privacy of Americans is the drone and the use of the drone, and the very few guidelines that are on it today and the booming industry of commercial drones,” she said.

The entire article can be found at http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/19/194400/fbi-tells-congress-it-uses-drones.html.

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