Chicago mayor Richard Daley has proposed a city ordinance that would require all bars open until 4 a.m. to install closed-circuit security cameras to monitor the comings and goings of patrons. The proposal includes measures that would eventually require all businesses open longer than 12 hours a day to do the same—all this, we should note, at their own expense. Never mind that the businesses already pay taxes to support a police force that, if these cameras are necessary, aren’t effective enough.
Advocates of privacy are obviously not happy with Chicago’s vaguely Orwellian shenanigans, but the proposal’s sponsors seem blithely ignorant about privacy concerns, citing other public safety ordinances such as requiring sprinkler systems as precedent. That sprinklers don’t record and store images of every patron is apparently inconsequential.
Naturally, as is expected when these kinds of debates come up, someone has to make the argument that, if you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about? We’d like to revise that argument to read: If you’re not doing anything illegal, or that looks like it might be illegal, or that is perfectly legal but someone watching the cameras think it is illegal; and you’re not doing anything morally questionable that you might not want people knowing about; and you’re not a person that the camera watcher wants to harass because of the way you look; and you can be assured beyond any reasonable doubt that the system and the footage it collects will not be abused by anyone, for any reason, then what do you have to worry about? Don’t be so paranoid, jeez.