The use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor public spaces is increasing, both in the United States and abroad. The Federal government and NIJ in particular, have funded research into these systems because of their many security applications in both the domestic and international arenas. Many people are wary about the government watching and recording their movements as they pass through parks, streets, and other public areas. Yet despite the controversy, CCTV use by criminal justice personnel in the United States may be increasing. Some governmental uses of CCTV technology, particularly in the field of corrections, have sparked little or no controversy. (See "CCTV and Corrections.") But in other venues, CCTV use is raising constitutional and privacy concerns. For now, the most prevalent use of CCTV by law enforcement in the United States is the taping of traffic stops by cameras mounted in police vehicles. But it is starting to be used more broadly, as it is in other countries. How widespread that use becomes ultimately will depend on how Americans weigh the benefits of CCTV surveillance against its intrusiveness.
NIJ Journal (July 2003), no.249, p.16-23