Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ubiquitous photography and the police

There is an interesting list of cops who were caught behaving illegally in NYC by the prevalence of cameras on Carlos Miller's very well named blog Photography is Not A Crime It is a First Amendment Right. What is interesting is the list is that all of the acts involve cops setting up citizens to take some sort of legal fall rather than just the cops doing something illegal off duty. 

At the same time, there is a large fight in Britain to get rid of the surveillance state that has appeared with a CCTV camera on every corner of London ( I exaggerate by only smidge). Those who are against the ubiquitousness of the camera surveillance also seem to be the ones who are all for the ubiquitousness of cameras busting cops who go bad. Is there a contradiction here?

It may be that as long as the surveillance is in the hands of the people, it cannot be abused in the same way it would be by those in power. But, I'm not sure that is the case, especially given the move of technology. Would you trust a photograph as evidence the same way you would have 30 years ago? How long before that same level of skepticism is brought to video, as it likely should?

The Rational Moderate


Pete said...

I cannot trust video or photographs as truthful evidence. I also cannot trust a government that sets up video or photographic surveillance camera's to "keep citizens safe", especially where a for profit organization supplies the cameras and contract to municipalities who seemingly have poor budgetary practices and require the cameras to increase their net income.

However, I do find it interesting that the same vocal group who is against public surveillance has no issue doing the same thing back. And they claim it as their first amendment right. Hmm, well they are a bunch of idiots. If you treat the state as an individual then it also has the right to use cameras, besides, these cameras are in public places and in the majority of cases they have been voted into place.

I think the individuals who record the police need to worry about their own lives and stop being so paranoid because what they are doing is closer to an invasion of privacy on the part of the citizen who is involved with the police. We only hear about the events that would make good news, we never hear about the thousands of hours of video surveillance that nobody finds interesting. That's something worth thinking more about.

Mike D said...

As a tech nerd, just showing me a photo of something or video of something that is unique or uncommon holds little weight. I have a full grasp of what programs like Photoshop and its video counterparts can do. On the other hand, that is not to say that if there is a security camera in a store which shows someone robbing the store, I am going to automatically dismiss the photo/video. I think the source of the photo/video as well as the photo/video itself have to be carefully scrutinized before taken as legitimate.

As for the persons who say there should be cameras watching the police all the time but not watching the public... fair is fair in love and war. It has a similar tone to "lets play hockey but only my team gets to wear skates, you have to wear bowling shoes." Besides, the purpose of the cameras is to protect the public in the first place. Aren't they?

I have to agree with Pete, these people need to get a life. If they are following around the police on sting operations, they are not only putting their own lives in danger but also the lives of the police and the individuals the police are stinging. Go pour yourself a glass of scotch, light a cigar, and relax on your brand new front porch!

trish said...

Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your stopping by my blog and leaving a comment about the Quirk Books fiasco. I love having opinions that don't agree with the majority as it forces people to think outside of what they already believe. I'm going to respond to your comment, if you want to hop on back and check it out. Just give me about 2 minutes. :-)