New and improved surveillance technology: Scary or necessary?

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Real-Time Analysis and Critical Response Division has access to 1,000 surveillance cameras spread across the city.

Credit: G.W. Schulz/CIR

It's 2014, and people have access to more data than ever before.

Local police departments and governments across the U.S. are slowly and steadily adopting some new – and astonishing – technologies in the name of fighting crime. But these advancements may come at a price: the privacy of everyday Americans.

Sounds like the beginning of a young adult novel about a dystopian future, right? The twist: It's not a book; some privacy experts feel we're inching closer to this reality.

You may not realize it, but you're being watched. Information about U.S. citizens is currently being collected at an unprecedented pace. Neighborhood agencies are using GPS data, facial recognition, biometrics, license-plate readers, camera networks and other technology to improve regional surveillance efforts. Now, you're easy to track, too.

Tune in to PBS NewsHour tomorrow night for our in-depth look at this growing issue. Part one of our investigation will take you through how local and federal agencies are using new technology to fight crime.

On Saturday, the second half of our report will delve into wide-area surveillance and show how it was used on the unsuspecting residents of Compton, Calif. This two-part series was produced in collaboration with KQED.

In the meantime, we continue to cover this topic, and we want to know what you think about the line between safety and spying and privacy versus civil liberties. Here are some questions we're considering:

Join the conversation by submitting what you're seeing and sharing your comments, questions or concerns on our Reddit page.

You can also chat us up on Twitter at @cironline and @juliachanb.

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