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New Jersey Lawmakers Mull Private Surveillance Camera Registration Requirement

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Video surveillance cameras are almost everywhere you look these days, and more and more people are installing them as security measures at their businesses and homes.

But as CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Monday, a proposed bill in New Jersey could require residents to register their private surveillance cameras with local police.

Most store owners said they like the idea, but many homeowners expressed worry that the move would amount to an invasion of privacy.

Law enforcement and sponsors of the bill said the measure has nothing to do with privacy and is all about saving lives. They pointed to the recent use of surveillance video that helped to locate a Philadelphia woman who had been kidnapped.

Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, 22, was abducted on the street in Philadelphia earlier this month, and was later found alive in Maryland. Her alleged abductor – Delvin Barnes, 37 – was arrested and charged, and officials said the cameras that were available helped with identifications in the case.

"The cameras that were available helped identify people," said New Jersey State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville.)

He said the Philadelphia example was representative of one of the many ways in which surveillance video can aid police in the fastest way possible.

"These police departments, county police and prosecutors are overburdened," Caputo said. "They want to be able to find these individuals as quickly as they can."

Caputo has co-sponsored the legislation that would require the registration of commercial and private outdoor video cameras with local police departments.

"This only assists them in terms of time; they don't have to canvass an entire area to look for the cameras," Caputo said. "They'll know where they are."

The private outdoor video surveillance camera registry would require:

• The name of the camera owner;
• The owner's address and phone number;
• The street address where the camera is installed;
• The number of cameras;
• Identification of the outdoor areas recorded by the camera;
• How the footage is stored or saved.

Newark store owner Siid Elhassani is on board.

"I think it's good for our safety; for safety for the stores," Elhassani said.

But not everyone thinks it's fair – in particular, homeowners.

"I think that's a violation," said Rashad Muraad of Newark. "You know, that's a violation of people's right to privacy."

Caputo stressed that there is no enforcement to say you must actually show the video. It is just so police know where to ask.

"Video is going to assist people from being, you know, prosecuted illegally, or victimized in the wrong way, so I don't see -- think it's good for law enforcement," Caputo said. "It's good for people. The cameras don't lie."

The measure states that those who do not register a camera could be punished by fines up to $100.

The bill was introduced last month in the assembly.

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