Perhaps so. But in reality, the suspect, Luka Rocco Magnotta, wascaught relatively quickly, considering that he was already onanother continent short days after the events. And in the end Mr.Magnotta s capture wasn t prompted by high-tech surveillance, butby sharp-eyed citizens. Even the alleged evidence of Mr. Jun s killing wasn t hidden onsome personal computer or private site, forcing police to obtainthe kind of warrants that Bill C-30 would heavily streamline.
Itwas available on a public website for anyone to see (and,disturbingly, it appears that many, many people wanted to see). Is digital monitoring starting to generate diminishing returns? To be sure, the ability to monitor Internet activity has provedbeneficial in countless cases. There have been numeroushigh-profile busts in child pornography Mr. Toews s mostoften-cited cause because investigators were able to quickly andeasily collect evidence and track offenders down.
Surveillance also serves more than one purpose: Besides helping tosnare criminals, it helps to deter them. In a corner conveniencestore, letting people know you ve got cameras watching them isjust as important as the watching itself. However, surveillance may be hitting a saturation point. Twentyyears ago, it was difficult to leave a significant digitalfootprint today, it s pretty difficult not to. More and morepeople are aware they re being watched online, by someone orother, all the time. Beats By dr Dre Solo HD Headphones
As such snooping becomes pervasive, people maystop altering their behaviour in response to it. Mr. Magnotta not only seemed unconcerned with being observed, hepositively sought it out. When caught by German police, hereportedly was sitting in an Internet caf looking at photos ofhimself on the Web. China Ludacris Soul Headphones
Would increased surveillance have helped tocatch the suspect sooner? Maybe. Would it have prevented the crime?Almost certainly not. Of course, it s impossible to generalize from such an extremecase. But this summer, the decreasing value of surveillance as adeterrent will be the subject of a massive case study the LondonOlympics. Monster Beats By Dre Studio Headphones Manufacturer
Over the past decade, London has made a strong case for itself asthe world s surveillance capital, with closed-circuit cameras(CCTV) seemingly on every corner. The Olympic Games, during whichthe city will be under the world s magnifying glass, has onlyexacerbated the situation. So overt is the theme of surveillance there that the Olympicmascots, two creatures called Wenlock and Mandeville that look likeblobs of mercury in QL unitards, don t even have faces.Instead, each mascot greets onlookers with a giant,face-encompassing eye that lets QL Wenlock recordeverything, according to Games organizers. If there s any wrongdoing during the Games, London s massivemobilization of monitoring technology may help to catch theperpetrators. But will it achieve the organizers much greatergoal of deterring anyone or anything that might damage the event simage? When surveillance cameras are more common than streetlightsand being watched is the norm, it can become just another part ofthe background, more noise to be ignored.
In 2009, a group of criminologists reviewed more than 40 studies onEngland s CCTV systems. They found that, despite massive costs,the surveillance had little effect on crime. The only area whereCCTV did have significant impact was on thefts in car parks, whenthe devices were used along with better lighting and more guards. In the U.S., large-scale surveillance networks have produced mixedresults. In some neighbourhoods of Baltimore, for example, crimedropped significantly where cameras were installed.
In others,criminals were largely undeterred. To be sure, many people aren t ready to accept constant monitoringas a fact of modern life. Earlier this year, millions of Internetusers in the U.S. and Canada stood their ground againstwide-ranging Web surveillance bills such as Mr.
Toews s C-30,forcing politicians to backtrack. But instead of dying, this kind of legislation tends to resurfacein modified form a few months or years later, the authors bettingthat gradually fewer and fewer people will complain. Every time Mr. Toews sings the praises of his proposed surveillancelaw, he will face resistance from critics on very legitimatecivil-rights grounds.
But there s another question policy-makersneed to consider when it comes to spending millions on more digitalsurveillance: What if a growing number of people have come to termswith being watched all the time, and what if many of them no longercare? Omar El Akkad is The Globe and Mail s technology reporter.