Brookline says "No" to CCTVs

Published 5 June 2009

Two months ago the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, installed surveillance cameras at major intersections; on Tuesday, members of the city council voted to remove the cameras because of privacy concerns

The Massachusetts town of Brookline, right outside of Boston, will remove surveillance cameras it installed at major intersections two months ago as a result of civil liberty concerns, the Boston Globe reports. During a town meeting Tuesday night, members rejected the one-year pilot program that installed the cameras with a grant from DHS. The resolution passed that night urges the Board of Selectmen to immediately end the project.

The idea of surveillance cameras in the area has been met with suspicion before, the Globe reports.

The rejection is unusual, but not unprecedented. In February, the Cambridge City Council halted the activation of eight surveillance cameras in the city out of concern for possible invasions of privacy.

Similar grants have doled out tens of millions of dollars in recent years for placing surveillance cameras across the country, from Pittsburgh to St. Paul, spurring concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates that the cameras usher in a “surveillance society,” where every aspect of private life is monitored and recorded.

Brookline’s Police chief Daniel O’Leary told the Globe it was an unfortunate decision he believes was made because “A lot of people, I think, looked at it on a philosophical basis, not as a public safety tool.”

According to the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Brookline town meeting’s decision is the first time a town meeting has debated and rejected the installation of surveillance cameras in a town’s public space.