We live in a surveillance state that continues to expand, but these are some of the most problematic areas.
Although it claims to be the world’s bastion of freedom, the U.S. doesn’t always feel that way. Government and corporate surveillance has gotten a bit out of control in this country in recent years — and some studies consistently rank Americans among the world’s most monitored citizens. One study ranked America as the second most spied on country in the world last year. Another study conducted several years ago found that many U.S. cities ranked among the most spied upon cities worldwide. As of now, China still beats us overall. It doesn’t really matter, since China is an authoritarian technocracy with almost no regard for American civil liberties.
We compiled a list of cities where you’re probably being watched by security cameras most of the time, if not always. A study conducted by tech outlet Comparitech last year compiled data on the number of CCTV cameras per city in the U.S. The full report can be found here. Anyway, keep reading and despair!
Supposedly, it’s the city where you left your heart. While San Francisco has many things to offer visitors (great views, cool breezes, and trendy bars), it’s also a pretty awful place for privacy. According to Comparitech, SF has a network of 14,266 municipally operated cameras-or about 16.18 cameras per 1,000 people. In spite of the fact that the city banned facial recognition in 2019, it may now be heading in the opposite direction. In response to an increase in crime rates, officials have created a wealth of stupid new programs aimed at stopping the Maserati of the local tech executive from being keyed: a recent pilot program that will give cops live access to a network of private security cameras owned by businesses and residents.
Aside from Silicon Valley, the Bay is home to surveillance capitalism and its gruesome offspring (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.). Yikes!
New York City
Comparitech’s list doesn’t include the Big Apple, but the city is clearly one of America’s most monitored. There were at least 15,000 public security cameras in New York according to reports, as well as a strangely unaccountable private surveillance fund. As part of its efforts to curb crime rates, the city has decided to turn its subway system into a giant spy apparatus: Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration announced in September that every train car will be equipped with security cameras. “You think Big Brother is watching you on the subway? That’s exactly right. That’s our intention.” she said regarding the cameras.
OMNY, the city’s new all-digital contactless fare system, will replace metro cards with a shiny new privacy hazard. It turns out that the company running that system–a defense contractor named Cubic Transportation Systems–sells surveillance technology to foreign governments.
There is a lot of crime in Atlanta, so it’s understandable why officials would want to keep an eye on people. However, doing that doesn’t necessarily prevent people from doing stupid, illegal things. In terms of surveillance, Atlanta is said to “lead” America, with up to 25,000 CCTV cameras in the city. Taking a population of roughly 500,000 into account, that’s a ratio of 49 cameras per 1,000 people. The Atlanta Police Department has access to 12,800 cameras in the CCTV network, according to Comparitech, which seems like a lot. According to Comparitech’s 2021 study, Atlanta is the most surveilled city in America.
Chicago has a major crime problem, as we all know. Cameras have been the city’s solution to bloodshed for years. Over the course of a decade, Chicago’s surveillance network ballooned to a frightening degree, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. In today’s [city’s surveillance] system, there are more than 30,000 cameras, according to some estimates, the ACLU wrote. In spite of the increase in cameras, the system continues to operate without regulation, privacy, or regular public reporting. It remains to be seen if the arsenal of cameras is stopping crime, but suffice it to say, a lot of people are still being shot in the Windy City every week.
Denver is known for its hiking trails, beautiful people, and high altitudes. In addition, there are security cameras! There are approximately 16.88 cameras per 1,000 people in the Colorado metropolis, meaning that the metropolis is one of the most heavily monitored in the country, with some 12,273 cameras for about 727,211 people.
Washington, D.C.-the city which houses our government, the place where our legislators spend their days doing…well, I’m not exactly sure what they do during the day. This is also the natural habitat of the FBI and the rest of our surveillance state, which are responsible for ruling over us through a combination of limitless resources, creepy technology, and a vague constitutional foundation.
Compared to other areas on the planet, our nation’s capital is yet another of the most surveilled areas on the planet, according to Comparitech. That’s not a surprise at all. The chances are that you will be on camera if you stroll around D.C. (the city has about 11,441 cameras, which means there are about 16 cameras for every 1,000 people, given that the total population is around 705,749). In addition to that, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is also known for keeping a close eye on almost everyone, from political protesters to homeless people and, in addition, there could even be spy planes spying on you. There are all sorts of wonderful possibilities that can be explored.
Los Angeles: it’s a place where dreams are made to die-or, at the very least, they are made to be whittled down through incessant failure until they are dissolved into cynicism and despair. Anyhow, Los Angeles is also a place where, even if you never make it to the silver screen, you’ll still always be on camera no matter what! The reason for this is that Los Angeles, according to Comparitech’s study, is one of the most watched places on the planet in terms of surveillance. That includes some 22,327 cameras for about 3,979,576 people, which equals some 5.61 cameras per 1,000 people.
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