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Holding police surveillance to account on Flickr

g20-flickr-group.jpg

Andrew Clement's Flickr group has so far captured 17 of the 67 security cameras installed in preparation for the G20 summit. (Flickr)

By Prasanna Rajagopalan, CBC News

pras-52.jpgAs part of the security preparations for this weekend's G20 summit, Toronto police have installed 67 closed circuit security cameras downtown.

Police have said they will take down the cameras after the summit.

But Andrew Clement, a University of Toronto professor, is disturbed by the increased surveillance, and is trying to hold police to that pledge - with a Flickr group.

The group, called G20 surveillance, is attempting to catalogue geotagged pictures of the security cameras.

"I want to make sure that they do take them down and this is a way of keeping track of where they are," Clement told Metro Morning Tuesday.

"Also, I think more generally, the imposition of these cameras hasn't been done in a way that at least conforms to the privacy commissioner's guidelines which require public consultation. They've got to make a case for necessity for the cameras, and it's hard to believe all of them are actually necessary and will do a good job."

Clement, who counts surveillance issues among his many research interests, also said that he doesn't understand why there are some cameras installed in areas well outside the security zone (example: Yonge and College).

He believes that research into the effect of security cameras shows at best "ambiguous" results about whether they actually make communities safer.

So far, the Flickr group only has six members and pictures of 17 cameras, but Clement hopes more people will contribute.

UPDATE: Thanks for your question Julia. I followed up with the Toronto Police Service about the issue of the use of facial recognition software. A spokeswoman told me she is not at liberty to confirm whether such software is used. She said, however, that the only people authorized to view CCTV images are members of the Toronto Police Service. She clarified that members of the Intergrated Security Unit who are not Toronto police staff are not allowed to view the images.

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