NEWS

Opinion shifts on CCTV

Six in 10 Greeks believe that hundreds of CCTV cameras installed for the Athens Olympics security system should be used for surveillance purposes and not taken down, according to a poll for Sunday’s Kathimerini. The survey was carried out in the wake of the attack on the US Embassy and violent clashes between anarchists and riot police in central Athens. Its results represent a substantial shift in public opinion which until now has viewed the surveillance system as an intrusion on people’s privacy. In fact, the poll, conducted by VPRC, suggests that 57 percent of Greeks now think that cameras protect people rather than violate their personal or political rights. One in three respondents said that they feel CCTV systems intrude more than they protect. Only a quarter of the 606 people questioned said that the cameras installed in 2004 should be ripped down whereas 61 percent said they should be used. Two-thirds of those polled said that there need to be cameras on roads in central Athens, half believe that there should be cameras in squares and parks, and roughly nine in 10 feel there should be CCTV systems at banks and sports stadiums. This month’s events have sparked a political debate about the use of surveillance methods. The government feels it is an opportune moment to push for the police’s right to have greater powers of surveillance. Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, whose late husband Pavlos was killed in a terrorist strike, is set to lead the campaign to increase security so terrorism can be stamped out. Writing in Sunday’s Kathimerini, Bakoyannis pointed out that Greece spent a lot of money on the Olympic security system (-250 million on the surveillance package) but it has not been used since 2004. «The life of a Greek, however, is not cheaper than that of a visitor for the Olympics,» the minister wrote. As a way of shielding individual rights, she suggests that authorities should only have access to CCTV footage after a special request from a prosecutor.