Surveillance Cameras Pros & Cons

Updated April 17, 2017

Surveillance cameras have redefined the concept of security and overall protection of homes and businesses. The range, wide price band and options of surveillance camera systems in the marketplace have encouraged their widespread deployment. However, overt monitoring and surveillance through security cameras can be disquieting and can impinge on civil liberties and represent legal liabilities. Surveillance cameras have their pros and cons.


Surveillance cameras are installed with the primary purpose of preventing theft on public and private property. The presence of these cameras acts as a deterrent for robbers, petty thieves and sophisticated criminals. These cameras monitor suspicious activities in locations where they are deployed; they thwart theft, shoplifting and vandalism. Stationed security officers in large businesses can take action quickly about real-time thefts or other property-threatening activities.

Security Management

Surveillance cameras with their latest advances and use of state-of-the-art technologies have raised the levels of security monitoring and security enforcement. Mall developers, large businesses, enterprises, public service institutions and owners of large properties hire specialised personnel and trained security staff to monitor surveillance cameras from central control or manned stations onsite or off-location. Such real-time monitoring can help the staff to take quick decisions and also inform county police and law enforcement officials about dangerous or life-threatening situations.

Legal Purposes

Latest generation surveillance cameras and allied systems can record voice and sound. Audio records coupled with video footage are increasingly being used in many legal cases. Sexual harassment, hostile or veiled threats, unsocial or rough behaviour on college campuses and in the workplace can be recorded on surveillance camera systems and records maintained. Employees caught stealing inventory or office items or pilfering data can be hauled up in courts with the requisite proof, and countersuit attempts can be foiled.


The ubiquity of surveillance cameras has raised the ire of civil liberties organisations. The deployment of hidden surveillance cameras in many public areas and also in large businesses and malls is a cause of concern for certain lawmakers and social advocacy agencies. Many such cameras can be used (or misused) as spy cameras to infringe on the privacy of individuals. Many users worry about the potential misuse of footage of surveillance cameras.

Invasion of Privacy

The widespread use and deployment of surveillance cameras in malls, offices, shopping complexes, school and college campuses and recreation centres is a cause for alarm for women, children and other vulnerable classes of society. Unscrupulous security personnel and staff members at central control stations and rooms manning the surveillance camera systems can create duplicate copies of footage on different storage mediums and misuse them. Videos and action footage of children and women can be morphed, manipulated and circulated on the Internet.

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About the Author

Based out of the metropolitan Washington D.C. area, Pallab Dutta has written on business, technology and management issues since 1994. He has freelanced for “The Wall Street Journal," “The Economic Times” and “The Times of India." Dutta holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Bombay University and a Diploma in modern information systems from IIT Bombay.