U.S. tops surveillance cameras per capita

I’ve written a few times about the growing surveillance state in China, but while China tops the world in sheer number of cameras, I was very surprised to find that the U.S. tops the list on a per-capita basis, coming in at 15.28 cameras per 100 people (China is 14.36, and the next closest is the U.K. at 7.5). My first thought was, “well, surely the U.S. number includes a majority that are not actually government cameras, but are, for example, cameras in private businesses.” It turns out, I was both right and wrong. Obviously, compiling this sort of data is a non-trivial exercise, but this report seems to have made a good effort. Their total U.S. number comes from a New York Times article which says “China has an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras — four times as many as the United States.” That still doesn’t provide much clarity on the private vs. public camera distinction, but at the city level, for example, they provide two sources for Atlanta which talk about the city’s Operation Shield which pulls together “over 10,600 private and city-owned cameras … into the Video Integration Center;” clearly indicating that the division between public and private cameras in the U.S. may not be as great as one thinks, and that it’s entirely possible the country is more of a surveillance state than China.

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