Public-Private Surveillance

Remember that new CCTV surveillance network that Charlottetown City Police are installing?

Today The Guardian reports that this is being done at “no cost to taxpayers” as it’s a business-supported initiative called eWatch:

Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan said Thursday the cameras are being paid for by the businesses that have partnered with police for this initiative. Businesses that wish to partner with police contribute $5,000 to the eWatch initiative. Police then go to that business and do a site survey to determine the best possible location for the placement of the camera. All of the cameras are high definition and some are equipped with infrared technology that enables them to capture images in complete darkness.

So not only are the police going to be constantly watching us, they’re doing so in partnership with business, which takes the project to new heights of civil liberties violation.

The Guardian further reports that the police justify the project’s lack of public consultation thus:

Members of the police committee at City Hall have been fully briefed on operation eWatch. There was no requirement to bring the matter before council.

That’s not the standard of community consultation we deserve from our city, especially for so sweeping a project.

While the involvement of business in a public-private surveillance partnership is chilling, at least it affords citizens an opportunity to oppose the move in an additional venue: alerting business “partners” that we won’t do business with them as long as they’re supporting this initiative.

A reminder that if you feel similarly, I encourage you to let public officials know: Councillor Jason Coady is chair of the Protective and Emergency Services Committee and you can write to him, with copies to the Mayor and to Ward One Councillor Eddie Rice, at P.O. Box 98, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7K2.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on August 7, 2015 - 16:35 Permalink

Is the list of companies participating available to the public?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 7, 2015 - 16:50 Permalink

Not that I know of.  I’ll be looking for it, though.