We probably are aware of the abundant cameras which are keeping a watchful eye as we navigate through the maze of retail establishment isles. We also might have an understanding of the traffic cameras, toll cameras, and possibly vehicle mounted traffic safety cameras. But, just imagine that now citizens are part of mass surveillance.
In a sense, this is already occurring with the overwhelming majority of people equipped with a smartphone. That pocket device is not just a phone but a high-tech, GPS tracking, social media monitoring, mega pixel video capturing device.
Certainly, most people are using the camera for their best Selfi attempt at a new Kardashian pose. Or, doing a short video to add to their SnapChat story. Some are even going as far as live streaming video on various applications of a concert, protest or some athletic event. The legal system hasn’t navigated the quagmire of copyright infringement yet, but it is coming.
Now, I mentioned Mass Surveillance which should sound spooky, and you probably aren’t considering that all of those earlier descriptions of video recording have no privacy related concerns, right? We all know that we do not have an expectation of privacy in “public”. I mean how silly is it for people to say “Hey, you need my permission to record that video.” That statement is a projection of some assumption of ethical or moral guidance on how people should be courteous in how they use the power of video recording. However, that assumption is not supported by the law.
We have all become accustomed to people walking, immersed in their smartphones. We are also familiar when some activity draws a group of people, phones get thrust into the air to capture whatever can be captured? This is a reflex response. Why? The rationale is that what might be captured could become some tool to catapult someone into internet celebrity based upon a viral video.
Maybe that is a stretch, but until the Psychology community conducts some long term studies around this behavior, I believe that the current evidence supports the thesis.
But now, an APP has emerged to have citizens encouraged to become part of the Mass Surveillance mechanism. Vigilante had a limited exposure on the iTunes App Store, specific to the New York City market. The APP is making promises to return and also launch on Android.
The App says: Crowdsourcing urban Safety
Vigilante lets you take safety into your own hands.
Anonymously report on crimes happening in your area. See the exact location of sketchy activity in your area. Contact the proper authorities if the crime is still occurring. Collaborate on details of a crime through comments to capture the full story and work for a solution.
The developers of the app reason,“ The lens of the camera is incapable of lying. When we are able to look at a situation from multiple angles, the truth emerges. Transparency is the single most powerful tool against crime and injustice, and we believe it will rebuild cooperation towards a shared vision. Cooperation, in turn, will lead to safer communities, better cities, and a stronger nation.”
It’s a utopian vision, but one that’s a little confused. On one hand Vigilante talks about restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, which suggests that video streaming could help document and prevent police brutality. Yet on the other hand, it’s precisely the kind of tool that could be abused to intimidate and harass innocent minorities with the kind of racial profiling that became rampant on the Nextdoor app.
In a world where expectation of Privacy is a personal narrative which is rooted in rationalization, every time we incorporate technology as a tool the validity of an expectation should have evidence. However, the real concerns of Privacy are only demonstrated by those who have experienced the pains or trauma from a world where evil exists.
We are now a society where Privacy is merely a word which has no definition. For, the need to experience what a technology immersed life can provide with 6 second doses of a dopamine rush will continue to distract from an individual awareness to the point of action.