Police Use of CCTV Surveillance: Constitutional Implications and Proposed Regulations

This article evaluates the constitutionality of CCTV “searches.” Part I discusses the present uses being made of closed circuit technology and evaluates the merits of the CCTV surveillance system. The critical policy trade-off is the system’s effectiveness in combatting crime against the resulting loss of privacy to individual citizens.

Part II considers the constitutional implications of CCTV use in terms of three major doctrines: the Fourth Amendment prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures”; the constitutional right of privacy; and the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and association. This part briefly summarizes the state of the law concerning these constitutional doctrines. These separate doctrines are then applied to a hypothetical fact situation involving police use of CCTV surveillance. The conclusion is that current case law is inadequate to deal with the advanced technological capabilities of CCTV surveillance.

Part III advocates stringent regulation of police use of CCTV, despite the system’s demonstrated and potential success in preventing crime, in order to stay within the constitutional parameters and to prevent abuses which unjustifiably intrude on the personal ·privacy of individuals.