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Surveillance System Set Up for RNC May Be Permanent

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Common Dreams staff

Map from rncctv.com documenting the surveillance cameras in Tampa.

The two million dollar "crowd monitoring" surveillance system put in place in Tampa for the RNC may be there to stay.

The cameras were turned off when the convention ended on Aug. 30, the Tampa Tribune reports, but the nearly 60 cameras -- whose locations are documented by area resident and tech guy Jon Gales -- remain in place.

Even before the convention, Councilwoman Mary Mulhern voiced concerns about lasting surveillance, the Tribune reports.

"This is a huge thing," Mulhern said. "We'll have many dozens of security cameras overhead. We don't want permanent surveillance."

Baylor Johnson, spokesman for the Florida chapter of the ACLU, also warns of the permanent surveillance, as has happened in other cities which keep the surveillance systems long after they are put in place for a specific event.

"Almost every time, the system stays in place longer than it was intended for," said Johnson.

"This is an impulse, to blanket public spaces with surveillance. But that impulse is wrong," Johnson said. "The monitoring of citizens can quickly become invasive. They become a tool of potential abuses of power."

The Tribune reports that the city council will discuss on Sept. 20 the fate of the surveillance system.

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