February 21st, 2008 by Joseph Carpenter

One of the main – and one of the most criticized – features of a state is that it claims a monopoly on power. For a democratic state, this isn’t an incredible problem as it is controlled by its people, ensuring it is a public good and not one based on the interests of a few. In an autocratic state, this means that the tyrant is the only one with a legal means of self-defense – and often the power extends well beyond defense.

However, the United States has a lot of work to do until it can truly call itself a democracy. Its current system has been rightly criticized as empowering the few at the expense of the good of the many. And, with organizations(recently euphemised as “private military corporations” or similar names), largely outside of US law, elite interests certainly are more protected.

The problem with these organizations as well as the conventional police and military is that they often are shielded from public scrutiny. Steve Mann in 2002 wrote in 2002 that “secrecy, rather than privacy,” is what the true cause of state-sponsored violence, or terrorism.

Because the general public is underrepresented in this monopoly of power, something must be done to ensure it can defend itself from these largely secretive organizations. Enter sousveillance. People, equipped with cameras and other recording devices, can adequately protect themselves from threats from above – those that operate surveillance. Edward told me that a police officer recently spoke to one of his classes and said phones equipped with cameras are making police behave more ethically. Without a camera, it is often the police’s word vs. yours, and it is obvious whose word is worth more. Without documentation, actions like this could easily have been covered up:

However, not all police officers are like the one in this video. In fact, a large majority of them are good people. But if this was the only documented case of police brutality, it would be one too many. But sousveillance will also offer protection for more common harms to the individual.

If personal wearable cameras become widespread, street violence such as muggings would likely be drastically reduced. With the act nearly always caught on film, many would-be-criminals would be safely and ethically deterred from committing crime. This is the nonviolent solution to the question of personal security – there is no need for concealed weapons.

It should be imperative that each citizen carries with him some form of device whose contents can be uploaded to decentralized websites like Youtube, Flickr, Facebook, or Myspace. The information will be essential in legal cases against the odd police officer getting carried away with his baton or taser, or the mugger or pickpocket. When there is objective and undeniable evidence of wrongdoing, only then will these actions be deterred – and much more strongly than simply eliminating the immediate threat with violence.giant water slide

Also paramount is the fact that this technology should be afforded to everyone. A person that cannot pay for some type of camera is no less important than one that can. Indeed, the people that cannot afford cameras are disproportionately the targets of attack. This is a matter of public security, and the government ought to hear this argument. If you meet with local politicians, please, bring this idea up.

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2 Responses to “Sousveillance: A Solution for Public Security”

  1. […] EmbraceUnity wrote an interesting post today on Sousveillance: A Solution for Public SecurityHere’s a quick excerptIt should be imperative that each citizen carries with him some form of device whose contents can be uploaded to decentralized websites like Youtube, Flickr, Facebook, o r Myspace…. […]

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