×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

A Law to Spy Back on Government Surveillance Cameras?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the who's-gonna-monitor-the-monitors-of-the-monitors. dept.

Privacy 229

mattnyc99 writes "As the Senate begins debate today on wider new surveillance legislation, Instapundit blogger and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds has an interesting op-ed as part of Popular Mechanics' cover story on the looming power of spy cameras in America. He cites numerous court cases to argue that our privacy concerns may be backwards, and that there should be a new law for citizen rights — that if Big Brother can keep an eye on us in public spaces, we ought to be able to look back. From the accompanying podcast: 'Realistically I don't think we're going to get much in the way of limits on government and business surveillance. So I think we should be focusing more on making it safe, on making it a double-edged sword.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

229 comments

Don't worry (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729384)

I'm sure our brave Democrats will hold hearings on it just as soon as they cave to the President's latest totalitarian demands [slashdot.org] once again.

Re:Don't worry (1, Informative)

lstellar (1047264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729596)

^ Troll please.

As for TFA the idea sounds interesting at least, if not completely sound. I believe our OSS community has proven to beyond a doubt that innovation + retrospection by others truly creates a product that works. "Big Brother" is not evil because we do not want to be protected from terrorists or the criminals or the boogie monster- "Big Brother" is evil because there is no one watching them.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730012)

'Realistically I don't think we're going to get much in the way of limits on government and business surveillance.

WHY THE HELL NOT???

Doesn't the government work for US?

RIP America, you were a nice little break from the lenghy story of oppression and slavery that is the history of the human race.

Reverse Surveillance (4, Informative)

Raindance (680694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729422)

Well, I think anyone really interested in the idea of reverse surveillance should read Obama's innovation plan [barackobama.com].

From the "open government" part of the plan:

Requiring his appointees who lead Executive Branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can watch a live feed on the Internet as the agencies debate and deliberate the issues that affect American society. He will ensure that these proceedings are archived for all Americans to review, discuss and respond. He will require his appointees to employ all the technological tools available to allow citizens not just to observe, but also to participate and be heard in these meetings.


There's more, as summarized by Ars [arstechnica.com]:
        * Put government data online for citizen access, analysis, commentary, and action. The document cites environmental data on pollution as one type that could be made available.
        * Effectively "crowd-sourcing" (though that term isn't used) some amount of agency decision-making by tapping the public's distributed expertise.
        * Build an online database that enables citizens to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and lobbyist contacts with government officials.
        * Give "the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House web site for five days before signing any non-emergency legislation."

Employee supervision (4, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729522)

Just a modest proposal: Every government employee - except for those working on confidential stuff - should have a 24-hour PUBLIC webcam on his desk ( The camera need not point at the desk, just at the person ) , his car, or wherever he/she works. Police / sheriff / prison employees / corrections officers, etc or anyone who may at some time have someone in custody should have two separate cameras in case one malfunctions.

Re:Employee supervision (2, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729844)

Scary. I say this probably because I was a graduate student at a state University. Because of that, I was considered a government employee. So were all the shop workers, janitors, and professors. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to watch my fellow employees (well, maybe some of them).

Re:Employee supervision (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730314)

I would really have liked the showercam for my 8th grade French teacher, Miss Galando.

Re:Employee supervision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730392)

Scary. I say this probably because I was a graduate student at a state University. Because of that, I was considered a government employee. So were all the shop workers, janitors, and professors. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to watch my fellow employees (well, maybe some of them).

I'm pretty sure none of you would qualify as "appointees who lead Executive Branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public".

Re:Employee supervision (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730714)

And thank goodness for it. Because then all my spurious Wikipedia edits would be more easily tracked!

Re:Employee supervision (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730526)

What's so scary about it? You're at your desk. Doing work. I am paying you. I should be able to watch you.

If you're slacking, watching porn, fapping, NOT working, I have a right no know.

It's not that I'm going to sit there and watch you 24/7, but I should have the option. If my boss and my IT department can watch where I go on the internet and walk into my cube at anytime, why is it unreasonable to think that the person who pays your paycheck can do the same?

Re:Employee supervision (2, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730652)

If my boss and my IT department can watch where I go on the internet and walk into my cube at anytime, why is it unreasonable to think that the person who pays your paycheck can do the same?
A moderately good point, and not one I have a ready answer to. However, the IT dept. at University and one's professors (who are the equivalent of your boss) and co-workers can also walk in at any time. Still, even at a federal job, a right to privacy should be respected.

      One advocatus diaboli argument would also be that much of graduate research involves labwork and teaching duties. Do we also need cameras (infrared or other frequencies for darkened labs) to watch labs and classrooms? Another is to state, "Well, I pay taxes so you can have highways to drive on, public sidewalks to walk on, classrooms in which to learn, and public libraries in which to read. Why can't I watch you all the time to make sure the money isn't being wasted?"

Re:Employee supervision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730736)

How many devils?

Re:Employee supervision (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730976)

Why not? From what I gathered from the summary, all they want to do is not let the government prohibit from letting us do this. I don't think that the government should fund every single webcam everywhere. But if there's a Cop that has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of physicalness with suspects, it shouldn't be illegal, imho, to follow the cop around with a camera. He's serving me (and not vice versa).

If I want to setup a webcam on my local road and a webcam in my (future) childrens' classrooms and I pay for it, there shouldn't be a law against it. Unless it can be shown that it is directly disruptive.

If it comes to a situation (which happened in my life) where it's my kids' word against a teacher's it would be extremely 'disruptive' for me to request to be able to sit in on the class to see who is telling the truth. Now if there was a webcam and I could check in on my kid or the teacher both would probably act in their element and quickly forget the camera.

"If you have nothing to hide then you shouldn't fear anything," true, but I think that only applies when you're not on my dime.

I know it's cliche and from a movie: "People should not fear their government, their government should fear the people"

Or what Tommy J said: "When the people fear the government you have tyranny...when the government fears the people you have liberty."

Re:Employee supervision (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731110)

Good. And because RFID chips are reasonably painless to inject, and the carrier would quickly forget about them, why not track every public servant? Your kids could also be tagged, as could you (since you're using those public thoroughfares, and your parents definitely put in considerable funds and effort bringing you up). No disruption!

Re:Employee supervision (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731230)

But those go BEYOND when they're on my dime. Those invade on their personal privacy.

Now making them wear a RFID chip when garbage men are on the clock to ensure they don't have to take any 'side routes', not a problem.

Re:Employee supervision (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731136)

It's hard to define or even prove waste in some jobs. There are studies suggesting that short breaks (reading Slashdot?) during the day actually increase productivity overall. Most good managers realize that keeping their workers happy and productive means not riding them constantly and giving them leeway with their time on the job.

Although we all may be paying a government worker's salary, that doesn't mean that we are all, collectively, that person's boss. The only time that I don't believe this is when it's an elected position, or a position where the person holds a disproportionate amount of power over citizens. It makes a great deal of sense to allow the people access to politicians--maybe not in their offices all the time, but certainly any time they're making decisions regarding laws and procedures for the US.

Re:Employee supervision (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731490)

And I don't have a problem with Slashdot or some mental breaks (such as this slow as heck week when 1/2 the office is gone). If I'm watching a government employee I'm not going to be calling their boss every time I don't see them typing.

I keep seeing a common theme of "well they're going to catch me slacking." The summary has nothing to do with catching people slacking off. It has everything to do with catching people abusing power.

I may raise alarm if I see two teachers getting it on in my kid's class room between periods (I may disapprove, but as long as it's two consenting adults..)
I'll definitely raise alarm if I see my Mayor, between the hours of 8 and 4 (or something reasonable) doing blow off of a strippers ass 5 days a week.
I'll definitely raise alarm if I see a cop walk up to someone. Look around to see if anyone is watching and then lay into them with a club.

I don't care if you slack off. The entire point of my post was, if I'm paying for it (or even just part of it) I should have access to it. I know that people don't work at 100% efficiency all the time. But imagine how "American Gangster" would have gone if citizens had access to all of what the dirty cops were doing?

So it may be unreasonable to go stand over the shoulder of the grad student. But if I paid for his research and as long as it's not a matter of national security. I should be able to get a PDF of what ever he worked on. I should be able to look at all the data and go "cool, I paid for this".

If I don't think it's worthy research, then I can complain to the senator that allocated that money to him. If the senator doesn't 'listen' to me. I vote him out next time around. That's how the government should work (IMHO).

Re:Employee supervision (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731836)

And I don't have a problem with Slashdot or some mental breaks (such as this slow as heck week when 1/2 the office is gone). If I'm watching a government employee I'm not going to be calling their boss every time I don't see them typing.
The problem is that you are more rational than most people.

I keep seeing a common theme of "well they're going to catch me slacking." The summary has nothing to do with catching people slacking off. It has everything to do with catching people abusing power.
Right. Well most low-level government employees have almost no power. There's no point to having video cameras pointed at all of them.

The leaf that is this post came from the branch containing this one [slashdot.org], which postulated that even graduate students doing work would be watched, and this one [slashdot.org] which suggested that it was perfectly reasonable.

The entire point of my post was, if I'm paying for it (or even just part of it) I should have access to it.
I just don't think that I can agree with this in the general case.

So it may be unreasonable to go stand over the shoulder of the grad student. But if I paid for his research and as long as it's not a matter of national security. I should be able to get a PDF of what ever he worked on. I should be able to look at all the data and go "cool, I paid for this".
But this is perfectly reasonable, in my book.

I guess it comes down to privacy and recognizing that the people who work for the government are still individuals. I think that it's perfectly reasonable to have access to works that were paid for involuntarily through your taxes. I don't think it's reasonable to have a camera pointed at a government worker 100% of the time that they're doing anything work-related.

Re:Employee supervision (0)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731262)

It is really a miscarriage of justice to think you pay their paychecks. You don't. You pay taxes and the government spends that money without so much as consulting you. And even if you want to argue the principle behind it you still don't pay their salaries.

Unless you make something like $200,000 a year in taxable income after deductions, you won't come close to paying a government workers salary. At best, you will only get part of it done and that is if you aren't using any other services that costs too. The majority of Americans don't pay enough in taxes to even cover one person's salary in each tax year.

So really, you don't pay any government employees salary. You don't get a say in who is hired, who is fired, or what they do on the job.

Same as your boss (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731730)

Unless you make something like $200,000 a year in taxable income after deductions, you won't come close to paying a government workers salary. At best, you will only get part of it done


And your boss, who supervises your job all the time, doesn't pay your salary either.


This is one of the lamest political arguments I've ever seen. You don't pay the whole of America's military expenditure ($400 billion/year), so you shouldn't have any opinion on that matter, right?

Re:Employee supervision (0)

metamatic (202216) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731374)

You're at your desk. Doing work. I am paying you. I should be able to watch you.

And as a shareholder, I'm investing in you based on the promise that you will make money for me. Therefore I should be able to watch you. Sound fair?

200 Million Employers (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731530)

When the average employee works, they get one (maybe a few) bosses checking up on them. They can easily get used to each boss's quirks and preferences, and learn not to rub them the wrong way.

The average government employee has 200 million employers watching him. They have the resources to watch him 24/7. Not only that, but many of them are opinionated and trigger-happy (mostly metaphorically speaking), and the group sends conflicting messages to the poor lowly employee. Politics is a hard game.

Re:Employee supervision (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731690)

Tell you what: Let's you and I set up identical businesses. We'll have the same starting funds, produce the same widgets/services, same capital expenditures, etc. Then you implement that policy and I'll implement one that actually respects the employees and recognizes that, no, you do NOT have a *right* to spy on people. Let's see who wins. Aaaaannnnd....Go.

Re:Employee supervision (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731914)

I dislike this attitude, and would not consider the government a very good employer if it started treating all employees as a priori criminals. In the end, the government is just another employer. What matters to an employer? Results! What are you measuring with your cameras? Presence. And the two are hardly correlated.

I think employers get better results when they care less about what employees are doing minute-to-minute but have some metric for tracking success at a job function. And I want the government to be an employer that gets results.

Keep your cameras away from the workers, Mr Pointy Hair!

Re:Employee supervision (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731332)

Just a modest proposal: Every government employee - except for those working on confidential stuff - should have a 24-hour PUBLIC webcam on his desk ( The camera need not point at the desk, just at the person ) , his car, or wherever he/she works. Police / sheriff / prison employees / corrections officers, etc or anyone who may at some time have someone in custody should have two separate cameras in case one malfunctions.

What's to stop, say, the Bush Administration from declaring that everything they do has national security implications and thus everything they do is secret?

Oh, wait, they already do that ...

Re:Reverse Surveillance (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729702)

How well will Obama's plan work once it's chewed, digested, and shit out the other end by Washington? It'll end up being nothing like the original and will more than likely become something that strengthens the lack of public oversight of the government.

Yet another pointless footnote for a Presidential candidate that will never see the light of day. He might as well have said "Read my lips," just to make sure it dies.

Oh, you cynical coward. (2, Interesting)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729934)

Yet another pointless footnote for a Presidential candidate that will never see the light of day. He might as well have said "Read my lips," just to make sure it dies.

Yes, we should compare Obama's actual proposed plan to yet another Republican sound-byte of a policy.
Even if the plan gets neutered (you will perform your duty and call your representatives to support it won't you?), at a minimum, Senator Obama is showing initiative in his understanding of technology and our country's need to embrace it.
How do you vote for any candidate? Do you just assume that every idea they have will be "chewed, digested" and wanked on in Washington?

Re:Oh, you cynical coward. (1)

Stefanwulf (1032430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730600)

you will perform your duty and call your representatives to support it won't you?
I could be wrong, but based on what I read above, this doesn't sound like a plan that needs legislative support in any way, shape or form. A candidate is going to need legislative backing for tax breaks, or health care, or even funding for new programs, but the President actually has significant authority when it comes to deciding how the executive branch runs on a day to day basis.

Re:Oh, you cynical coward. (0, Flamebait)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730852)

He would need to pay for it somehow. This is when it would be gutted.

But it is pointless anyways. All the wishful thinking in the world won't get him elected. He won't be the next president and he won't be the next vice president. This just isn't the time for a black person to have that office. And I'm not saying that to be a racist, I'm saying that to be practical. Once he has to start pandering to the black groups he will lose white supporters and if he ignores them, he will be called an uncle tom or some other slur which will bring the white liberal racist against him. He, as well as any black man, is in a political no win situation for the office of president until some things get sorted out and resolved.

Bullshit. (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731760)

All the wishful thinking in the world won't get him elected. He won't be the next president and he won't be the next vice president. This just isn't the time for a black person to have that office.

It's the job of progressives to drag the rest of country into the 21st century. If people want to make this election about race, they need to be attacked again and again on their racist, ignorant stances. Did Rosa Parks think "Golly, it's just not the time for black people to sit where they rightfully please"?
Did Dr, King state "I have a dream...but maybe someday later, not right now.".

Shame on you for even suggesting that Obama is "the black" candidate. He's as legitimate a candidate as any other, with the support to prove it. He just happens to be black. You can't expect a candidate to win if you assume the worse from the beginning. Apathy kills progress, and hands the country over to the ignorant element of our country.

Re:Oh, you cynical coward. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731004)

Without legislative support, it is a patch with an expiration date. With legislative support, it could become a very welcomed permanent limitation on the executive branch.

Re:Reverse Surveillance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730524)

How well will Obama's plan work once it's chewed, digested, and shit out the other end by Washington?

It will read identically to how it did before with the simple swap of "every citizen" and "your household, car, and place of business" for "any government representative" and "halls of government."

It will also mention the new drug detectors to be installed in your toilet.

HTH! :(

Re:Reverse Surveillance (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729788)

Is this the same Obama that voted to reauthorize the "Patriot Act"?

Re:Reverse Surveillance (2, Informative)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730410)

No, this one is trying to get you to vote for him as President.

If he wins, he'll go back to being that other one again.

Ugh (3, Insightful)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729486)

So if before I was only worried about law enforcement violating my privacy, now I can add the entire US population to the list.

Sorry, I just don't see how two wrongs can make a right here.

In the vein of reverse monitoring (2, Insightful)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730550)

I think that every cop car should be required to have a tape that is rolling whenever they pull someone over. I think they should have the detected speed displayed on said camera as well. This way no cop can lie about what they are pulling you over for and they can't get a conviction if the evidence is not present. Some jurisdictions have this but I don't think it's required for the most part. I would even take it so far as to say every cop should have a recording device on his person somewhere at all times to verify the authenticity of his story. They work for us and if they want surveillance we should make it work to OUR benefit also.

Re:In the vein of reverse monitoring (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731376)

Interestingly, I live in a district that allows the cops to turn them on and off. My suspicion is that they are on all the time but they only acknowledge it when it can help them not you.

Some people think this is an unfounded line of thought. I just point them to the government setting up a corruption hot line for our area so people can anonymously report corruption to the FBI. This came after two cops where busted for dealing drugs that they obtained from busting other dealers a county away. But the county sheriff in office before the current one of my county is still serving time for his corruption convictions. The local police chief got by with resigning though.

I would agree that every action of the cops should be monitored.

Re:Ugh (1)

advs89 (921250) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730966)

That's relying on the presupposition that video-recording a public place is a "wrong." I don't see how you can call either a wrong. You're in public, if you're going to do something you don't want everyone to see, you shouldn't be doing it in public. Do it in the privacy of your own home, where you can pick and choose who sees what.

Indeed (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730974)

What we need are larger and more visible protests.

The recent traffic jamming of intellectual property fascism in the EU and the Super-DMCA grinding to a halt in Canada, is proof that the people can still get their way. Or at least a compromise. Though defending privacy now is going to take a more radical amount of action.

Re:Ugh (1)

rho (6063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731330)

Ahh, you don't know anything about Instapundit, then.

Two wrongs do make a right, so long as the "right" person gets the wrong. Which is the "right" person? Well, you'll have to as Glenn Reynolds.

It seems quite reasonable (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729498)

...that the people should have the right to collect information, especially when it
a) involves them personally, and
b) the outcome of conflict resulting from the situation at hand can have big, big effects on life.
Yet it would seem that one of the requirements that will only be realized later is that you need to protect the government itself from denial-of-service attacks brought on by cunning thugs.

Two wrongs don't make a right (5, Insightful)

jockeys (753885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729502)

Us doing it to them doesn't really make them doing it to us and less wrong.

The medicine is still nasty underneath all that sugar.

Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729668)

While you are correct, I suspect that it would never come to that...

Having seen my fill (and then some) of governmental bureaucracy, I can tell you right now that the very thought of putting video cameras into ever gov't bureaucrat's office would make the gov't workers' union scream bloody murder, and thus if the two were tied together (gov't watching us in public only if we can eyeball our gov't workers in (in)action), neither would get off the ground.

While having 24/7 webcams of hundreds of thousands of napping gov't bureaucrats would be boring to say the least, the bureaucrats themselves would be frightened enough at the prospect to immediately become privacy's biggest ally.

/P

Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730106)

The ability to monitor the government is a necessary foundation for free and open society. It is not a second "wrong", it's a fundamental right that has been increasingly trampled upon.

Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731468)

He didn't say it was a second wrong. He said it doesn't make the other wrong any less wrong.

But I disagree on the necessity of openness. As long as there is trust, you don't need to check up on them. But without trust, you need transparency which is why your comment makes sense. And there is an amount of transparency that isn't fully blown like webcams on every government employee that can get the job done sufficiently. Because it can be done isn't a good enough reason sometimes.

Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731608)

And the ability for a government to monitor its citizens is a necessary foundation to enforcing the law. The first is not "wrong", it's a fundamental right that has been increasingly recognised lately.

Of course, I don't believe that for a second, but stating that "monitoring the government is not wrong" will not stop those who do.

Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730868)

Let me tell you why it's OK. I watched a cop drive very erratically - call her cop A. I got pulled over by cop B and cited for a bogus traffic infraction. Cop B said Cop A saw me break the law; but, cop A did not even show up at the location I was pulled over to issue her citation. Cop B made up a charge and charged me.

If I'd had a camera or a voice recorder of the conversation between me and cop B, Cops A & B would have been fired. Video would have been even better.

YMMV WRT Recording conversations. Consult an attorney before doing so.

Do unto them before they undo to you!

Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731728)

This whole argument just pisses me off. Here's the correct answer: If you're in public, then you're not guaranteed any privacy rights!!! ...but besides that: ...there might be cameras on the streets watching your every move, but just for all you paranoids out there, YOU ARE NOT BEING FOLLOWED, YOU ARE NOT BEING MONITORED FOR YOUR BEHAVIORS, YOU ARE NOT BEING VIOLATED! How do I know? Well, IT'S NOT POSSIBLE!!!

The horsepower required to perform facial recognition or other tracking of moving people in real time for hundreds of cameras in a metro ethernet environment is insane! Even if it were possible to do that on a camera by camera basis, to correlate all that information into a real time tracking system and allow a single individual in the network to be located by request is again, almost impossible. Even in a small environment, like a casino, it's very hard to track a single person this way. It's done mostly manaully, not by automated computer.

To take a system, make it city, county, or worse, state based, and collect that much information, over a disparate network would be nearly impossible. A computer to crunch data from over 1000 cameras would be massively expensive and unrealistic. A database to catalog and store tracking information for that many people would be beyond the scope of any existing database technology. Do you have any idea how much information we're talking about???

OK, think of this in terms of MMO (something every /.er should understand...) A typcial zone, which tells YOUR computer where YOU are, and actually sends a simple coordinate system and instructions, not full frame video, will lag when only a few thousand people are in the zone. The central system knows who you are already, and knew your starting location, and was given hints all through the process, but even powerful grid systems with hundreds of nodes can't keep up. You're contantly feeding it GPS style updates to that information and if your connection lags, your PC sends the system your last known location (or vice versa), yet still you lag. their software and you are perfectly alligned and each know what the other is doing. To do this by video tracking, by anylizing frames from multiple individual cameras, trying to correlate even a 2D map of the city and track each individual in real time, and from only 1 side of the camera (you're not giving they're system any hints or coordinate information feed are you?), and to do this for upwards of a few MILLION simultaneous "mobs" is frankly impossible. Just taking a single still image one time across the city and trying to identify which person was the same person from 1 angle as another camera saw from another would take hours of processing, let alone doing it in real time 10 times per second. ...and you want it to not only track the objects (people, cars, etc) but in real time look them up in some massive (non-existant) database and put names to faces? BULLSHIT! We'll be on Mars before a system like this was possible, let alone getting the CIA or other black ops body to use it without some low paid city engineer being aware of the abuse of that system and letting us all know.

What a metro camera system can do is allow an individual camera to basically monitor itself. It can identify simple behaviors: a car runs a red light, a car has no license plate passes by, a car with an APB out on it passes by, a loiterer has been standing at a bus stop and several busses have passed by, someone passes through a storefront window (i.e they're breaking in). the camera can then notify central dispatch of a potential issue for which a real cop can be sent to the scene, put his human eyes on it, and react appropriately, all while he himself knows he's being recorded doing it. The reverse is also true: you dial 911 and give them your location (or if your phone is GPS enabled, they get the info from there). The closest cameras to you locate you automatically send the video feed to an operator so they can better assist the scene remotely. An alarm goes off and a camera can automatically point at the scene. Someone is fleeing from cops, the cameras can lock in on a single individual and follow them from camera to camera (doing this 1 object at a time is possible, bot for millions of them).

What do we get from this system?
- prevention of insurance fraud (we have video of every accident, and know who's fault it is)
- keep honest people honest (most people won't steal if they know they're being watched)
- keeps cops honest (the frequncy of abuse has dropped dramatically since dashboard cams became common, imagine the impact is everything, not just whats to the front of the car, was recorded on every street everywhere)
- clearly shows who through the first punch, or who incited the violence (no more frivolous assault lawsuits)
- everyone who comits a traffic violation automatically gets a ticket. now all the cops can go back to actually preventing REAL crimes
- video evidence of every crime in proicess
- video assistance from 911 and other emergency services
- no more unlicensed drivers or uninsured vehicles

What do we loose?
- the ability to cheat, lie, and steal

They can't track you in real time, unless they WANT to track you, and specifically select to do so. They can do that today, it just requires a bit more man power. It will still require a court order either way...

Ewww.... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729514)

I cannot be the only one that REALLY does not want to see Cheney's "intimate moments".....

Re:Ewww.... (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729784)

I cannot be the only one that REALLY does not want to see Cheney's "intimate moments"

At least it would be over quick, not like Iraq.

Re:Ewww.... (2, Funny)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730422)

I cannot be the only one that REALLY does not want to see Cheney's "intimate moments".....
Especially not when he shoots his friends by mistake.

(Why is there no -1 Horrific Mental Image mod available?)

Re:Ewww.... (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731430)

Why is there no -1 Horrific Mental Image mod available?
Somebody usually posts a link to the goatse guy every article. Won't that do? You must be new here.

quite brilliant (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729560)

This is really a quite brilliant tact. Many of these entities was easy and if becomes a huge pain in the ass, they could get in trouble for abuse, or it is costing more money than it is worth (more likely the latter of the three), then I would expect that they would not be so gung ho about cameras.

it's our government (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729642)

so it's also our spy cameras. the idea should be greater transparency. most of the spy cameras out there pointed at public places are there for our safety, and, all paranoid schizophrenia aside, are used for our safety to catch crooks

so let us look at the damn cameras too

in fact, it might even be useful for strapped law departments: scenario: "person XYZ (show mugshot) on trial for armed robbery skipped out on court today: oh great america's most wanted watching public: monitor the security camera feeds for daytona and orlando. here's 3,000 of them. find our guy"

distributed computing. distributed security. people are motivated by the search for justice. so empower them. let average citizens sift the data and report on interesting findings... like: "these 19 guys at this security gate at logan airport were taking flight school lessons just last week in florida"

all i'm saying is that 30,000 busybodies with a broadband connection around the country can do a better job than 300 trained CIA analysts at langley

Re:it's our government (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730350)

Eh, not so much. 30,000 busibodies often won't be able to recognize the wheat from the chaff because they lack training. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. You can get an infinite number of monkeys to eventually produce Shakesperes works, but only if they know how to type first.

Re:it's our government (1)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730540)

i don't think he's saying those 30000 are the judge and jury here. i think it's more along the lines of "xx number of people reported seeing these guys taking flight lessons in FL just last week... let's look into it further."

force multiplier? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730980)

"all i'm saying is that 30,000 busybodies with a broadband connection around the country can do a better job than 300 trained CIA analysts at langley"

i could have said it better. rather than replace the 300 CIA analysts with 30,000 America's Most Wanted aficionados with broadband, why can't the 30,000 web vigilante's serve tips to the 300 CIA analysts? A lot of security is drudgework. Offsite some of the drudgework to random passionate yahoos, and the analysts can use their well-trained minds to do more well-trained things

It's win-win. How many people out there would stare at a boring camera feed all day "in the war on crime, in the service of the CIA"? Lots of people. And if a random joe shmoe catches a really good tip, fly the guy to langley and put their photo on the wall, like an employee of the month, and send out a press release. 30,000 more free eyeballs will join the program

more eyeballs, motivated by nothing but justice, zero $ expenditure, replacing drudgework to free trained analysts to do more important things: i can't see how this idea is anything but win-win, for America's Most Wanted Fans, for the CIA/ FBI, for everyone. except actual criminals

noooo (5, Funny)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729684)

that would kill the "in Soviet Russia.." meme

Re:noooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21729876)

So in this case, you watches you?

Re:noooo (3, Funny)

JavaBrain (920722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731228)

Something like?

In Soviet Russia, government spying on you spying on government spying on you spying on government... ...on YOU!

Not for me (2, Insightful)

cadeon (977561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729900)

Protect my Privacy by invading yours? Sounds like our current foreign policy.

A simple solution to prevent undue surveillance: (1)

thatwouldbeme (1155745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729906)

Simply display any copyrighted material on your person and then have the *AA use the DMCA to sue the bastards out of existence!

Re:A simple solution to prevent undue surveillance (1)

czmax (939486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730128)

Simply display any copyrighted material on your person and then have the *AA use the DMCA to sue the bastards out of existence!
Wait, wouldn't this constitute knowingly causing copyrighted material to be distributed over a video surveillance network? I'm betting the *AA lawyers are at your door as I type. It was nice knowing you.

Spy Yourself (3, Informative)

mycal (135781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21729936)


Spying yourself has never been easier. I've been playing with the Aviosys 9100a video serve with the after market Yoics firmware. I can pretty much install this
anywhere there is an internet connection, even if they people that own the internet connection don't know, and view it from anywhere else.

This thing also supports sound! Not bad for $80.

So go ahead and spy back! Until it is against the law that is.

See the Yahoo Group http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/9100/ [yahoo.com] and the Yoics Software at http://9100.yoics.com/ [yoics.com] for this device.

-M

Re:Spy Yourself (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730202)

I'd rather not post a webcam of me masturbating all over the internet. OR HEAVEN FORBID, PROGRAMMING.

Re:Spy Yourself (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731098)

YMMV, but the laws around audio surveillance are much stricter than those for video surveillance, especially if the audio is recorded, instead of just heard (e.g. by a security grunt).

- RG>

I agree (5, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730036)

We need the following laws: 1. It it NEVER illegal to make any audio recording of an on-duty government employee

2. It is never illegal to make a video or other recording og a clothed on-duty government employee.

3. It is illegal for any government employee to request or insist that such a device be deactivated. Attempting to do so results in a fine equal to one day's pay. If violence was used, they are too be dismissed immediately, even if it was 'justified' by other actions. I.E. If you tell them to stop filming and they hit you, then you hit them back, you get fired even though 'they started it.'

4. If a government employee takes possesion of a a recording device that is not theirs and a recording is damaged, it must be returned in 100% working condition, with a copy of any recordings on it, within 2 days. Failure results in an investigation by Police, or by Internal Affairs if they are police. If a court case finds that there is a preponderous evidence that the employee intentionally damaged the device or the recording, than that employee will be dismissed from their government position. If the court find they did it beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are to be arrested and tried for grand theft.

Re:I agree (3, Insightful)

StarEmperor (209983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730222)

So anyone can make a recording of the on-duty government employee who's changing the launch codes for the nukes? Or the state-paid lawer who's talking with a client? Or the government doctor who is reviewing someone's medical records?

I agree with the sentiment of what you're advocating, but surely some things should be kept secret.

Re:I agree (4, Funny)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730726)

It is never illegal to make a video or other recording of a clothed on-duty government employee.
So anyone can make a recording of the on-duty government employee who's changing the launch codes for the nukes? Or the state-paid lawer who's talking with a client? Or the government doctor who is reviewing someone's medical records?

[Emphasis mine]

This should result in some interesting new security policies. Government employees will now be required to strip before doing anything that requires secrecy.

Re:I agree (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731692)

If you have someone in a position where they can watch any of these activities, you have larger problems than them also recording them.

As described by the grand parent, there is no problem with removing the person doing the recording, if they would not otherwise be allowed to observe what the are recording. Additionally, the grand parent doesn't specify any restriction on moving recording devices not in the custody of some person, so feel free to remove any planted recording devices, and charge their owner with trespassing if trespassing was required to plant them.

As far as my principles are concerned, recording devices on a person, controlled by that person, are simply a prosthesis for that persons senses and memories. If your observing something, then recording it doesn't change the legality of you observing it. If you disseminate your recordings, it is no different from you describing your memories in exhaustive detail.

Re:I agree (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731746)

I said it was never illegal to record them. I did not say that the act of recording let you violate other laws.

In the same way, you can't arrest someone for speaking, but you can arrest them not having a permit for a demonstration.

Any government employee changing the launch codes should CERTAINLY be doing it in a private area where it was illegal for citizens to trespass.

You arrest the citizend doing that recording for trespassing etc. Not for the filming itself.

Similarly, you arrest the guy filming the lawyer for violating the CLIENTS rights, as you do the guy the guy filming the doctor.

But you can not arrest them for filming the state employeee.

Really not that hard to understand, your objection is rather simplistic and is exactly the kind of thing that judges know how to deal with.

Re:I agree (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730560)

What great ideas. Your moronic attitudes are why I got out of law enforcement work. Some little shit-biter hits you in the nuts, you take 'em down, while his buddy is filming - oops forgot to capture the assault - and claims abuse. And, no - that did not happen to me personally.

There are certainly corrupt and asshole officers - and your policy makes sure that they are the only ones to stick around. The rest of us, who believe in transparency of government and have no problem with filming (unless it cannot be paused for a fart or nose picking, yeah, I know you never do either but I don't want to be filmed doing it) are getting the fuck outta Dodge.

Enjoy your little world and wonder why the only cops willing to put up with such bullshit are increasingly stupid, violent, and corrupt.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730850)

Some little shit-biter hits you in the nuts, you take 'em down, while his buddy is filming - oops forgot to capture the assault - and claims abuse.

Maybe next time he won't turn off the squad car camera. Those things are there to protect both sides of the coin, you know.

Re:I agree (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730572)

This is a fascinating concept, and deserves further expansion.

Perhaps if public surveillance cameras of the kind used in London, England ever gain popularity in North America, the feeds should be broadcast uninterrupted on a portion of all that public bandwidth they're planning to sell off when television goes digital.

If there is no public record of an arrest on those cameras, then one must be made on a police camera that is surrendered to the arrested person's representative immediately. Otherwise, no charges. Period.

Re:I agree (1)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730768)

We need the following laws: 1. It it NEVER illegal to make any audio recording of an on-duty government employee

Great idea! Let's call it "The Richard Nixon Law."

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21731688)

1. Do I have to post my hours of employment so you'll know when I'm on duty, or are you just going to record 24 hours a day so you won't miss out when I come in early or leave late?

2. Does this also include when I'm giving advice to another employee or, if I'm a manager, doing appraisals, job reviews and the like? I'm sure that the entire world would love to see it when I console one of my fellow employees after one of their loved ones has died.

3. Someone could be fined just for asking to turn off the camera or if someone came up and punched them? That's certainly brilliant. It'd make civil disobedience much, much easier - all you'd have to do is have to do is punch all of the cops in a police line and they'd all be on report. Great fun.

4. That certainly lowers the bar for grand theft, doesn't it? Break, even inadvertently, a $10 web cam and go to prison.

What, oh what to do?!? (1, Offtopic)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730108)

Where does one find information on the latest government travesties? Seriously, torture, detention without trial, ignoring checks and balances, elevation of corporate interests above citizens interests, lies, more lies, and it just seems to be getting worse each day. I'd like to be pointed to a resource where I could just get some facts for fodder to incorporate into a ye olde letter to the editor: if enough people could have their attention pulled away from the latest episode of Seinfeld for just a moment maybe the US could reclaim a bit of the integrity it used to have. A concerted effort by many citizens writing letters to many editors bypassing the politicians who don't seem to care about whats right if it doesn't get votes or donations may be one facet of a solution to stop America's current decline. If you had told me ten years ago what is going on today in the US I would have laughed in your face now I just shake my head in dismay. Time's archive of political cartoons is depressing but the events that inspire them just don't seem to be getting the attention they should demand in media and dialogue.

Re:What, oh what to do?!? (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730254)

if enough people could have their attention pulled away from the latest episode of Seinfeld for just a moment
The 90s called and want their post back.

Do we even have a Constitution? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730174)

Endless gov't spying, yet another infringement on our rights by the gov't. Add it to the ever-growing list of violations:
They violate the 1st Amendment by opening mail, caging demonstrators and banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov't.
Support Dr. Ron Paul ($6 million yesterday).
Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov't and drops the title):
America Deceived (book) [iuniverse.com]

Glenn Reynolds is a fascist (1, Troll)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730382)

Glenn Reynolds has been one of the president's principle cheerleaders for years, rah-rah-rahing for the gutted FISA amendment [instapundit.com] that basically allowed the government to do whatever it damn well wanted. Now he's publicly worried about state accountability? What a jackass and a hypocrite.

Re:Glenn Reynolds is a fascist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21730808)

Any argument coming from someone calling someone else a "fascist" can be immediately discarded.

Go back to Daily Kos or whatever.

Re:Glenn Reynolds is a fascist (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731092)

You obviously haven't been reading anything Glen Reynolds has written. He isn't a Bush cheerleader. Sometimes he agrees with him, sometimes he doesn't. This is because he uses his brain and actually "thinks" about issues. You should try it sometimes.

Ad hominems make you look stupid (1)

smitth1276 (832902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731410)

First of all, the link you provided doesn't support your assertion at all, unless you are trying to attribute the opinions of the interviewee (Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith) to Reynolds himself.
 
Secondly, Reynolds' opinions are usually delivered in a very measured, reasoned way (he's a law professor), so he never "rahs rahs" anything, and to the extent that he will openly and consistently support any given policy he does so with legal justification, usually from a decidedly libertarian perspective.
 
He's a great blogger... I highly recommend that you try reading him sometime.
 
(And calling someone a "fascist" because they disagree with you--perhaps believing that the government should be able to listen to a call between two terrorists in Pakistan when it happens to pass through a US switch--makes you sound like a really, really unintelligent person. Just a bit of advice. It also conclusively illustrates that you don't even know what the word "fascists" means, which is a bit of a bonus.)

Watching the Watchers (1)

strangedays (129383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730784)

I believe that it should be public policy to record all police activity, both to protect officers against false claims of abuse, and also to help protect the public against the possibility of such abuse.

The same policy is needed in the many other agencies with draconian powers of search seizure and arrest. In other words, any official with opportunity and motive for abuse of power should be monitored and recorded whenever they are on duty.

There is long standing precedent that an employer has the right to monitor employees. What the agencies and government choose to forget, is that they work for us, the people. The technology to monitor their actions exists and can become ubiquitous, it should be available via the net to any citizen that chooses to review it. There have been many examples where the fortuitous presence of a video camera, has revealed extremes of behavior in security personnel. Most notably... a major agency recently chose to deliberately destroy video evidence, despite the likelihood of a major public outcry... Clearly avoiding monitoring is something they desperately want to do... I wonder why...

There's too much "Us", and "Them", in the security agency mindset. Agencies and many officers appear to believe that anyone who is not an agent are merely citizens, whose rights can be abused at will. This unfortunate attitude needs to be discouraged. Regrettably I believe that our security agencies leaders have lost respect for our laws and our courts and that they display a callous and cynical disregard for this issue.

Sadly... one interpretation of the many current security scandals is that most agencies feel they can avoid or circumvent any laws they simply don't like, or find inconvenient. If challenged they always seem to trot out the weak excuse that they needed to do so to protect us. Personally I want them to do their job and protect us all; while staying within the law of the land. Sadly, I think it's clear that we need live video monitoring as a real protection.

I believe we can trust most officers and most agencies do the right thing, most of the time, but it's also clear that it would be foolish to continue extending trust blindly, nor do we need to.

Lets make "evidence" (That which is seen) work both ways, because its not about "us" and "them", its "we the people". The people must watch the watchers, and now that we have the technology and opportunity we should do so.

sad drive home last night (2, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21730828)

Does anybody other than me think that our founding fathers would be upset, and ashamed of us for letting all this bullshiat happen?

I was driving home last night (101, north scottsdale arizona) and passed by some of the new speed cameras that have been put up in that area. The speed limit on the road is normally 65 MPH but it is currently at 55 because of construction. It was very late at night, and there was literally NOBODY on the road, and no construction workers of any kind. So i was driving 65 MPH...which is a completely safe speed to drive in the conditions I was in at the time. The WHOLE TIME i was driving home i was freaked out that I was going to get popped by one of these stupid things.
That is a small example, obviously
Howabout the fact that they set up the "surprise!" speed trap vans all over the place now in tempe, and south scottsdale? Or the fact that there are red light cameras at almost all of the intersections in tempe/scottsdale?
okay thats another small example
Howabout the fact that kids are getting shocked with enough electricity to knock them to the ground and incapacitate them for a few seconds when the talk back to an angry cop?
Okay thats also a really small example.
Howabout the fact that I think twice every time i go to a chemistry website, or a website with any types of schematics/blueprints because i just MIGHT get flagged as "suspicious" because by using information from both of those sites i could cause havoc.
Yeah, thats not TOO big of a deal.

Stuff like this honestly makes me sick to my stomach. :(

Re:sad drive home last night (2, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731336)

The speed camera thing is weird. My objection isn't so much with the cameras themselves, as with the other aspects of the situation.

First, you were driving safely, but illegally. That suggests that arbitrary speed limits are not useful. You didn't do anything you'd be ashamed of. You didn't do anything wrong. So why are you worried and nervous? You're worried because you know some bully might take advantage of you, anyway. Yeah, I wonder what TJ would say about you living in fear of your government.

Also, here in Albuquerque, one of the "interesting" things about the speed cameras, is that they issue civil citations instead of criminal ones. All the usual rights you'd normally have when defending yourself from government's power, don't apply. No innocent-until-proven-guilty presumption, no court-appointed defense, arguably no double-jeopardy restrictions, etc. You're guilty and have to spend money on court costs (which is typically more than the fine itself), a lawyer, etc just to get a real trial. It's a blatant abuse, and yet, all people talk about is whether or not the program is "effective." Fairness is an extraneous issue.

The authors of the Bill of Rights would be amazed by that.

The cameras are no big deal, compared to all that.

Re:sad drive home last night (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731552)

Thats exactly my point. I am totally 100% behind a program that will make the streets a safer place to drive. There are lots and lots and lots of idiots out there who drive WAY too fast, weave in and out of traffic, cut each other off, follow too closely, etc. etc. Anything we can do to stop that is great. Same thing with drunk drivers...get them off the streets. I am just opposed in principal to something like a speed camera.

I am of the opinion that people should be punished for doing things that hurt society, not because they had the ABILITY to do something that could hurt society. A La me being at a party last night and literally drinking half of one beer 4 hours before I left the party and being FREAKED out when i was at a traffic light next to a cop because I'm underage. In arizona, if he had decided to pull me over and check, i would have had a mandatory jail sentence, a mandatory ignition interlock device (in car breathalyzer), and a mandatory 1 year suspension of my license. ALl of this because I am under the arbitrary age of 21 and had a trace amount of alcohol in my blood.

Whats worse is that this POSTING could probably get me in trouble. Look at the guy that recorded himself doing 219 MPH in his lambo a couple of weeks ago. The guy didn't hit anyone, he didn't hurt anybody, he didn't cause any problems of any kind...he COULD have, yes, and the guy is a jackass for that....but impounding his car and throwing him in jail because he COULD have hurt somebody?
Or howabout people who get caught street racing in arizona? THEY CRUSH YOUR CAR! they don't impound it, they don't even auction it off...they crush it. You do not get to collect anything out of it, nothing....your property is seized and destroyed simply because it COULD have been used to hurt somebody.

Watching the Watchers. (1)

eriks (31863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731094)

Yes, the watched need to look "back" at the watchers. In fact that is the more important activity. Any government needs to be held accountable by it's people, otherwise it becomes facist, rather quickly, as history demonstrates.

Further, I think that any cameras that "surveil" a public place should have their RAW output available to the public.. some of them do, either by design, or due to poor security, but there "otta be a law"...

Not a "right" (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731162)

... but a responsibility

I find it strange that we are debating whether citizens should have the "right" to record the actions of others in public spaces. We are constantly being told we should have no expectation of privacy ourselves in public, yet we are so used to asking for permission for everything that we hesitate to do what I think is our responsibility to do: document the actions of law enforcement and shine a hard, critical light on examples of abuse.

The recent death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver International Airport demonstrated that. A concerned citizen's video recording of the incident gave Canadians the opportunity to see how quick the RCMP were to deploy their tasers on an exhausted, confused man who - while agitated (for good reason) - posed no immediate threat to himself, the police or anyone else.

Another valuable lesson from this incident: never, never hand over you camera to the police. The photographer who captured the killing of Mr. Dziekanski agreed to give his camera to the RCMP on the condition that they return it within 48 hours. They did - minus his memory card. For two weeks, the cops dragged their feet, until a public outcry forced them to return the card.

When the public finally saw the video, it provided a great example of how law enforcement put their spin on what takes place prior to a death at the hands of one of their members. It also gave credibility to the reports of other citizens who have been tasered without justification.

David Brin -- Transparent Society (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21731506)

Main thrust of his book is just that, turning the camera war inside out. The main point is that as cameras get smaller and cheaper (Diamond Age, was it?), they will be everywhere, and in effect, the world will be turned into a little village where everyone knows what everyone else is doing. So universal surveillance will happen regardless of what we might want. The rich and powerful will be able to hold it off for a while longer than average citizens, but not forever.

In the meantime, he suggests that all those police control rooms full of street camera feeds need two corrections. One, the camera feeds themselves should be made public. There is no excuse for the police to see what is on public cameras and keep it secret from the public. If cops are zooming in on windows, average citizens should be able to see that same window. These are not cameras planted pursuant to a warrant, these are public cameras.

Second, put a live feed for the pubic in that police control room. If the cops in there are goofing off or zooming in, it needs to be made public.

I personally really look forward to smart dust cameras as in Diamond Age. Very few people want to see what I am doing enough to invest the time in monitoring whatever cameras have been planted in my house. But EVERYBODY and his dog wants to see what Dick Cheney or Paris Hilton are up to. It will be the first time in history that the rich and powerful have the most to lose. It's going to level society in amazing ways.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...