Parking lot cameras would set wrong precedent


Kunal Mehta

The City of San Jose recently approved a proposal to put surveillance cameras on street lights. The proposal is extremely vague, and concerning for those fighting to defend our civil liberties.

Similarly, there has been much recent discussion about adding surveillance cameras to De Anza College’s parking lots. One petition currently circulating has accumulated over 700 signatures. The benefits of being able to track down bad drivers who commit hit and runs, or provide comfort for those walking alone late at night seem beneficial, but come at a steep, Orwellian, cost.

Access to such footage would be a stalker’s paradise, and while we’d hope our police force is above reproach, we all know that is not the case. There are well documented incidents all around the country of law enforcement abusing their access to cameras to stalk, blackmail, or gawk at citizens.

No doubt those proposing the idea of surveillance cameras have the best of intentions, but it simply isn’t all that in reality.

Surveillance cameras aren’t suddenly going to give all of De Anza’s drivers valet-like parking skills — your car is still going to get dinged all the time. A would-be attacker will still dress in dark clothing, and it’s unlikely that surveillance footage would be useful in identifying a dedicated attacker.

We would end up with needing an increased De Anza police force that just monitored camera screens instead of going out into the community and interacting with citizens. We should push for a more humanizing and empathetic approach to policing, and less technology to get in the way.

De Anza is a unique place in our commitment to protection of minorities and other disadvantaged groups. Bringing surveillance cameras to campus would be a large step in the wrong direction.