Bombing probe highlights expansion of surveillance

As the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings shows, it is no longer that easy to get lost in the crowd. There are eyes — and cameras — everywhere.

Investigators of Monday’s attack quickly got a vast quantity of amateur photos and videos taken by onlookers, often with their cell phones, as well as footage from nearby surveillance cameras.

The upside of the expanding surveillance network may be clear in the greater potential to solve crimes. Lawyer Ben Wizner with the American Civil Liberties Union says the group doesn’t object to cameras at high-profile public locales that are potential terrorist targets. What it does have a problem with, he says, is a society where cameras are so pervasive people can’t go about their lives without “being recorded and stored in data bases forever.”

In the U.S., Chicago already has a comprehensive network of surveillance cameras. Police say the network has drawn few complaints and even the local branch of the ACLU says Chicagoans generally seem at peace with the system — except for when it results in a traffic ticket.

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