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U.S. Eyes U.K.'s Surveillance Cameras

Police in Britain continue to probe the backgrounds of the eight people linked to bombing plots in London and Glasgow, Scotland. A large part of that investigation is the scanning of thousands of hours of videotapes from the country's 4.2 million closed-circuit cameras.

London police say they should be able to track the moves and planning used by the terrorist suspects over the last few months.

This kind of powerful investigative tool has drawn the interest of some police officials in the Untied States, who are eager to bring a similar system to this country.

Britain has been using the cameras for many years, originally to combat IRA terrorism. Following a series of truck bombings in the late 1990s, officials developed a system of 240 cameras in central London. The cameras can recognize license plates as well as human faces.

In the United States, some law enforcement officials are seeking to tie existing traffic and business security cameras together. Such links are being sought in Miami, Los Angeles and other cities.

The cameras often raise concerns over privacy or other abuses, but advocates of the systems say newer technologies can help prevent such abuses.

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Dina Temple-Raston
Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.
Robert Smith
Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.
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