William Van Alstyne, a professor of constitutional law at Duke University, said surveillance is an issue only when it is used in places people consider to be private, such as restrooms. Many consumers already accept that they are being watched in public places such as convenience stores, he added.
But John Crew, a lawyer for the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he is concerned that the public looks at privacy rights too simplistically. Are cameras really necessary in parks such as the one in Denver, he asks, if only 1% of the population is not law abiding?
James Joy, executive director for the ACLU in Colorado, said he personally did not like the idea of putting surveillance cameras in a public park, but added, "We don't have any immediate objection to it. I don't see it as any different from a patrol car passing by."
But Crew said there are other legal issues that should be examined, depending on where the cameras are being used.
"One of the real problems with all technological advancements is they get in place before legislation can catch up with [the market]," he said. "Oftentimes, these Big Brother technologies are much less effective, expensive and intrusive than people are led to believe. The [privacy issue] will be different depending on different locations . . . what you can and can't do in an airport is different from what you can and can't do in a housing project corridor or in a convenience store."