Civics: Six U.S. Cities Make the List of Most Surveilled Places in the World

Emma Coleman:

Conversations about privacy concerns in recent years have often focused on the online space, given high profile data breaches and repeated revelations of tech companies’ misuse of personal information. But the private sector isn’t alone in surveilling people, and invasions of privacy aren’t just threats online.

Offline surveillance by the government has grown exponentially in the past few years. One estimate found that the number of security cameras in the U.S. grew from 33 million in 2012 to 62 million in 2016. Now, a new report from Comparitech, a technology research firm, takes a count of the number of closed-circuit television cameras owned by both government and private sources in cities around the world and compares that with the city’s population to find the density of cameras.

Atlanta was the only place in the U.S. to crack the top ten, with 15.56 cameras per thousand residents. That may seem low compared to cities higher on the list, most of which are in China and have 39 to 168 cameras per thousand residents, but Atlanta’s rate is high by U.S. standards. The five other municipalities that made the list of the top 50 most surveilled cities in the world included Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, San Diego, and Boston.