It isn't exactly privacy in the usual sense. You are out in public, and anybody can see you. If a cop is watching, you have no cause to complain.

But if the cop is recording your every public move, that's wrong unless there is a real specific reason. And that's what the problem is with the system - not that the camera allows the cops to see you, but that the database allows the cops to easily compile a detailed record of your movements. If there is a specific investigation and they are watching you, they can do that already, but this allows them to do it with everybody all the time.

That's just plain creepy.

And there are plenty of lawful things that I might be doing that I don't want recorded. I may drop in at the local pr0n shop (the resolution on glossy paper is so much better than anything on my monitor) or do a little gun shopping, and I have even been known (don't tell anybody) to enter the offices of [link||that hippy rag] that sometimes publishes stories that some cops find annoying. Now, all of those are legal, and all out in public where I can't expect privacy, and if I'm being investigated for a crime those are valid things to look for. But I don't want the cops keeping track of me doing them all the time. Even if the cops are on the up-and-up. And if they hire human beings as cops, the potential for abuse is rather major.

A few years ago, Milwaukee had a police chief named Harold Brier. He was chief for many, many years, and had a kind of agreement with City Hall that as long as he kept the Maffia out of Milwaukee, they wouldn't ask any questions, put any restrictions on him, or replace him. One thing he did was maintain the red files - a set of dossiers on local communists, socialists, political activists, prominent jews, and other problem people. The information was (as far as I know) gleaned from photographs of demonstrations, news reports, regular police files, etc. Harold, when asked about those files, said that he kept them because these people were vulnerable to being attacked by intolerant individuals and groups, so he needed the information in order to better protect them. Riiiiiiiiight. As far as anyone knows, those files didn't contain any information that wasn't public. And yet, there were quite a few people who had a big problem with those files. Among those people was the next police chief, hardly a libretarian privacy freak.*

Loss of privacy has real, concrete consequences - my daughter didn't to go to a doctor for more effective birth control because she mistakenly thought that Wisconsin has a parental notification law. She is now 16 and pregnant. We have an excellent relationship, she was just trying to avoid embarrasment.

* The new police chief promised to destroy the files as his first official act. But then he said that it would be illegal for him to do that, because of the Freedom of Information Act. He did promise to lock them away from any use other than responding to FOIA requests.

And the Maffia thing? The Feds investigated right around the time he retired. Harold hadn't been keeping up his end of the deal for a long, long time. He was no more effective in keeping them out than any other police chief.