Ramnath K. Chellappa, Associate Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management recently provided insight to Creative Loafing Atlanta about the possible impact and public reaction to Operation Shield, an extensive system of public and private surveillance cameras monitored by the Atlanta Police Department. There are plans to install and link up to 10,000 cameras over the next five years.*
The following is an excerpt from the article ‘Atlanta under surveillance’ written by Max Blau.
Emory University Professor Ramnath Chellappa has spent the better part of two decades researching privacy, from security cameras to Internet retailers gauging our online behavior. He contends that people are OK with giving up some privacy in exchange for a perceived increase in public safety. Of course, that’s provided there aren’t serious negative repercussions associated with privacy breaches.
“There hasn’t been noise about it because, en masse, no one has seen the negative consequences,” Chellappa says. “There hasn’t been evidence of a private firm using this information.”
Chellappa has long noticed that many people don’t fully understand their rights when it comes to personal information.
“Many people mistakenly presume that there is some kind of constitutional right to online privacy or any kind of privacy, which there isn’t,” Chellappa says. “To my understanding, there’s only the right to not have invasive search and seizure from the legal standpoint.”
In many ways, the contentious relationship between security and privacy exists no matter if we’re making our way through the heart of Atlanta or Amazon’s home page.
“There’s an inherent trade-off associated with that which we cannot shy away from,” Chellappa says. “When you post a picture on Facebook and share all this personal information, this somehow lends itself to a notion of anonymity, which is obviously not there.
“Similarly, these cameras have become so commonplace that they’ve become like utilities where we don’t know that we have electricity until it goes away,” he adds.
* ‘Atlanta Under Surveillance’ – Creative Loafing Atlanta