Increasing surveillance a dangerous reaction to Boston bombings, says privacy law expert

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, some people are calling for an increase in surveillance cameras throughout U.S. cities.

“This would be a mistake,” says Neil M. Richards, JD, privacy law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “It would be dangerous to our civil liberties, and it would be bad policy.”


Richards gives his personal reaction to the Boston bombings and offers three reasons why increasing the number of surveillance cameras would be an unnecessary response to recent events in a CNN opinion piece, “Surveillance State No Answer to Terror.”

“Being constantly observed might make us feel slightly safer, but this would be only an illusion of safety,” he writes.

“History has shown repeatedly that broad government surveillance powers inevitably get abused – whether by the Gestapo, the Stasi, or our own FBI, which engaged in unlawful surveillance and blackmail of ‘dangerous’ people like Martin Luther King, Jr.”

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