In June 2013, Edward Snowden disclosed to the world the extent of government surveillance, both global and domestic. The longstanding fear of which has been embedded in our society since George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, “Big Brother” has since permeated our reality. For some time, governments have kept a watchful eye, not just on foreign countries, but on our own text messages, and webcams.
Thanks to the rise of smartphones (with video, audio recording, and impressive camera megapixels) and social media, people have been outfitted in their own monitoring.
What no one predicted, however, was the resistance against in the exact same form - surveillance. Thanks to the rise of smartphones (with video, audio recording, and impressive camera megapixels) and social media, people have been outfitted in their own monitoring. As TechCrunch reported, “Suddenly, cameras in the hands of citizens became weapons of justice. They level the playing field between the populace and the powers that be, as long as we turn them on”.
The idea, called “Sousveillance”, which means “to watch” and “below” in French, is gaining some momentum in the mainstream. Cory Doctorow has written a novel entitled “Little Brother”. With the current police brutality that seems to be endlessly ongoing in the U.S. alone, the idea of civilian surveillance upon police seems to be growing in popularity.
“Suddenly, cameras in the hands of citizens became weapons of justice. They level the playing field between the populace and the powers that be, as long as we turn them on”.
This past summer we have seen a series of violent tragedies that seemed to culminate with the announcement this past Monday in Ferguson, Missouri, where police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown earlier this summer, walked away with no indictment. What has since sparked outrage and rioting across the entire United States for what seems to be a completely unaccountable sense of authority, the desire for more video recordings upon those that “serve and protect” seems inevitable.
Since 2011, only 41 officers were charged with murder or manslaughter for on-duty killings out of the 2,718 reported “justified homicides” by law enforcement. The Brown family released a statement on Monday requesting, “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen. Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera”.
The idea, called “Sousveillance”, which means “to watch” and “below” in French, is gaining some momentum in the mainstream.
In 2012, the ACLU’s Stop & Frisk Watch App was designed to monitor police encounters with civilians. The app records video and reports to the ACLU, as well as alerts other users when the app has been activated nearby, with the hope of bringing more civilian recordings.
Three young siblings in Georgia are currently beta-testing Five-O, which is an app that allows citizens to rate (both good and bad) their encounters with law enforcement.
In Rialto, California, a pilot program that required officers to wear body cameras was introduced . They found that complaints against officers were reduced 88%, and use of force decreased 60%.
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