Closed Circuit Television Systems on University Campuses: Unexamined Implications for the Expectation of Privacy and Academic Freedom

Thomas W Lauer, Albert J. Meehan


Since 9/11 and particularly since the massacre at Virginia Tech University in 2007, many universities in the United States have begun installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems on their campuses. What sorts of claims are being made about the use of these systems and what justifications are there for installing them? How might the pervasive use of monitoring technology affect traditional values associated with university life such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, privacy, and the freedom to explore? What policies are in place to ensure that whatever benefits associated with these systems justify both tangible and intangible costs?

Our analysis is partially derived from a study of university policies in the United States concerning the installation and operation of CCTV systems with the aim of gaining insight into these questions. In addition, we used a coding instrument for analyzing the corpus of policies in order to understand how the policies addressed such issues as: rationale or justification for CCTV usage, relevant personnel roles, public awareness, accountability measures, information security and data handling, routine operations of usage, and any relevant limiting measures. One aspect of our study is to interpret the corpus of policies through the lens of Nissenbaum’s contextual integrity framework which is concerned with examining the effects of new technological practices (such as the installation of CCTV systems) on one’s expectation of privacy.

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International Journal of Law and Public Administration   ISSN 2576-2192 (Print)     ISSN 2576-2184 (Online)

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