Thursday, December 06, 2012

City of Tampa May Make Unauthorized Peeking Cameras Legal

I can't believe the Tampa City Council is even debating whether or not surveillance cameras can peek into homes without a warrant.

Today Tampa City Council approved changes to an ordinance reinforcing that would make it a crime for Tampa Police to use surveillance cameras purchased for the Republican convention for unauthorized peeping on residents inside their homes. But they put off a decision about whether the cameras will be a permanent part of the city’s landscape. There’s been ongoing friction between council and the mayor’s administration about who has the authority to authorize deployment of the cameras. To help clear that up council scheduled a workshop for next August suggested by member Harry Cohen.

The correct answer should be no one should have the authority for "unauthorized peeking." Perhaps Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the Tampa City Council need a refresher course on the Fourth Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Tampa Police chief Jane Castor says that the cameras will not be used to peek into homes. We were goiven assurances that the Patriot Act was temporary and would only be used against terrorists. We have seen warrantless wiretapping on law-abidding American citizens since the Patriot Act became law.

I was in downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention. The excessive security kept Tampa residents away from downtown. Out of town Republicans went to Ybor City to spend their money. Downtown Tampa is already a mess. Intrusive surveillance cameras will only make downtown Tampa less friendly to visitors.

Update: Mitch Perry reports that the decision to have the surveillance cameras is strictly up to Mayor Bob Buckhorn. He has already decided to keep the cameras. It appears that the ACLU is going to have the City of Tampa to court.

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