Rutherford Institute: Surveillance Use Should Have Limitations - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rutherford Institute: Surveillance Use Should Have Limitations

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surveillance photo of Alexis Murphy at a Liberty gas station in Lovingston surveillance photo of Alexis Murphy at a Liberty gas station in Lovingston

While surveillance video has played a key role in the Alexis Murphy case, the prevalence of cameras watching over us all the time is also raising privacy concerns.

Alexis left her home in Shipman Saturday, August 3 - reportedly heading toward Lynchburg. Surveillance video shows her at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston around 7:15 that night. That was the last time she was seen. Her car was found the next Tuesday at Carmike 6 movie theater in Albemarle. Authorities arrested Randy Taylor on Sunday, August 11, and charged him with felony abduction in relation to the case.

Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead says, while the video was beneficial in this case, it is another example we're living in "a surveillanced state." And that, he says, requires a delicate balance.

"What I've advocated is that if these cameras are going to be used either by private entities or by the government, there should be some restriction on police access to them, those kinds of things. There should be a time limit on them as to when the material on them should be basically deleted," said Whitehead.

Whitehead says those kinds of restrictions would help protect people's privacy - for example - when attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or going to and from a psychologist's office.

"Those kinds of conversations should not be appropriated and made public in any way, however, if someone commits a crime, obviously yes," said Whitehead.

Whitehead says he aided in a national study about two years ago which found, in many cases, surveillance cameras do not prevent crime. Instead, they displace it to areas without cameras. But, that doesn't mean those recordings will not pick up some kind of information that may be vital to an investigation.

"So, in those instances, I think they'll be very beneficial when they catch someone doing something strange, or as in the Alexis Murphy case, possibly locating the alleged abductor," Whitehead.

To read more on the Alexis Murphy case, click here.

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