In addition to being under electronic surveillance, we are increasingly under visual surveillance. Supporters of such oversight claim cameras deter crime, though many studies from the UK, and preliminary findings in the US, suggest video surveillance has little or no positive impact on crime, according to an ACLU report. A 2011 Urban Institute study found crime falling in some areas but unchanged in others.
The assumption that individuals must surrender privacy in exchange for security is being challenged. Growing indignation over the scope of government surveillance and policies of dubious constitutionality has encouraged efforts to limit what watchers can see.
Visual countersurveillance technology doesn’t work very well yet. This isn’t particularly surprising, because light manipulation turns out to be complicated. Back in 2006, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology celebrated a prototype device that could interfere with digital camera image taking. But they couldn’t move the technology beyond their lab.