Chicago Seeks Mandatory Cameras for Bars

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.

Daley Wants Security Cameras at Bars [USA Today via TechDirt]


Edit Your Comment

  1. sanloublues says:

    I hope all bars start to close at 3:59am.

  2. The Unicorn says:

    Stupid Chicago with their cameras! They’re everywhere nowdays — half of them are hidden, and half of them have really annoying blinking strobe lights to draw your attention to them.

    They also recently instituted helicopter police patrol, & the first arrests that resulted were two guys sitting in a parked car smoking a joint.

    I’m all for putting my tax money toward a more effective police force, but only if it’s going to catch people doing things that actually have the potential to harm me — and casual drug use, however illegal, is not one of them.

    Also, I’m still mad at the CPD for the time I got busted for underage public drinking (a proud night) & the cop kindly told me, “If you’re wandering through this park late at night, and get your ass raped, don’t come crying to us.” That’s a direct quote. Maybe they should be putting the cameras in parks.

  3. AcidReign says:

    …..That would be pretty much an unenforceable ordinance. Who’s going to go around and make sure the things are recording, or that there’s tape in the vcrs, etc.?

    …..What’s to stop a bar owner from hanging up a dead camcorder and saying, “Yep. We got a security camera. Right there.”

  4. OkiMike says:

    Reminds me of my high school days. I’d let my girlfriend go up to a bank ATM and withdrawn some cash with that security cam looming near her face. Then I’d run up and pretend to rob her, after struggling a bit, then we’d start to make out in front of said camera.

    I wish I could have seen the look on whoever watched those tapes.