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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Big Brother at the Portland Central Library?

A reader writes:

The main library downtown has video cameras that keep an eye on what people are doing. This isn't too unusual -- in the world of Homeland Security etc. What does seem unusual is that they are secretive about it. But if they see someone doing something wrong, they use those videos to prosecute. I heard this story from someone who was caught hiding cd's or dvd's or something like that. Which is fine -- they should catch him -- but shouldn't they also be required to warn the rest of us that surveillance is in progress? We already know they track every web site and probably every email you send from their computers -- but if you're going to videotape people in a public building, aren't you required to say so?
I don't know whether the law requires it -- I doubt that it does -- but wouldn't it be a good policy to advertise the cameras? One would think that it would have a deterrent effect.

Comments (5)

Maybe they are for keeping an eye on thieves.
I seem to remember something a while back about the dvds being lifted from there by the truckload and then the library admitting their sophisticated, expensive "theft deterrent system" wasnt even turned on.

A public record request seems in order here. What records are they keeping when we use their computers, and what video recordings are they making of us? To opt out must we stay away from the public library?

I am not familiar with the library's public computers that can be used to browse the web or send e-mail. The only ones I ever go on just let you see (and order from) the library catalog.

In order to use the library's computers for web browsing, must one give identifying information?

Of course, a surveillance photo of you sitting there would be pretty good ID, but is there something more that users already declare before they get on line?

I think you have to apply for a password, and use your library ID number to login. (at least in Beaverton).

I really doubt they are tracking anything people do online. Especially after all the fuss about refusing to put porn filters on their system. That would be pretty two-faced.

Gee - who would have thought the Library would use a video surveillance system? Especially after the "news" some time ago that they were losing CDs and DVDs by the truckload to thieves. And why do they have to give the criminals a "heads up" with a sign? Are you aware that almost every 7-11, Plaid Pantry, and Department store in the Metro area has similar systems and no signs to warn anyone about them?

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