Video cameras in public places - parks, courtyards, alongside roadways - are quickly becoming the preferred security tools of law enforcement agencies and private companies. And as surveillance technology becomes more sophisticated and cheaper to implement, the debate between public safety and personal privacy is once again growing.
The police department in Ybor City, a southern Florida tourist district, is testing a new surveillance system of video cameras and computers. At the heart of the system is a $30,000 software program called Face-It. The software can capture the faces of up to four people from the 36 cameras installed throughout the heavily trafficked shopping and nightclub district. Then, the program compares the captured images against a database of photos by examining up to 80 points of facial references centered on eyes and noses. If the program doesn't find a match among the database of 30,000 photos maintained by the police department, the captured images are discarded. But if a match is found, observers radio a local police officer to stop and verify the identity of the person on the street.
In many cities, the easy and rapid proliferation of such public surveillance systems has worried those who argue for the right to privacy. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, New York City literally has thousands of cameras. High traffic areas of New York City, for example, are monitored not only by the police, but by various government and private agencies as well. The fact that anyone could have access to those pictures makes some people feel uncomfortable.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
1.- Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE? Write down the evidence from the text. No marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE.
The use of public surveillance systems has become a matter of increasing controversy.
All pictures taken by the video cameras in Florida are kept in the state archives.
2.- In your own words and based on the ideas from the text, answer the following questions.
- What does the computer of the new surveillance system in Florida do? PAR.2
- Why are some people concerned with the use of video cameras in public places? PAR.3
II. USE OF ENGLISH
3.- Find the words in the text that mean.
- put into action (paragraph 1): implement
- send a message (paragraph 2): radio
- spread (paragraph 3): proliferation
- defend (paragraph 3): argue
4.- Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate form of the word in brackets when given.
- More technological advances were (be) made in the last fifty years that in all previous centuries.
- If private agencies had (have) video cameras in public places, what would they do with the pictures?
- The new surveillance system was tested (test) last month and it will still be working for several years.
- Arthur Garfield Hays was an American lawyer who defended people accused in prominent civil-liberties cases without charging (charge) anything.