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Sousveillance in Seattle - Watching the Watchers 489

Posted by timothy
from the steve-mann-my-hero dept.
Eh-Wire writes "At the recent ACM Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, Steve Mann - cyborg numero uno - led a troop of conference attendees on a surveillance camera hunt and digital capture. Their antics confounded rent-a-cops in a downtown Seattle shopping mall who had difficulty with the concept of having their surveillance cameras surveilled."
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Sousveillance in Seattle - Watching the Watchers

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  • Re:Editors? (Score:4, Informative)

    by pegasustonans (589396) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:36PM (#12236619)
    From Wikipedia: Sousveillance refers both to inverse surveillance, as well as to the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity (i.e. personal experience capture).
  • Nonsensical... (Score:5, Informative)

    by buddhahat (410161) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:44PM (#12236754) Homepage
    This seems like such nonsense..what is the point of videotaping or photographing the cameras? How does videotaping a camera that is videotaping you deliver on the following quote from the article?
    "What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions.???

    Now actually taping your ACTIONS makes perfect sense if you are going to be doing something that is potentially dangerous or you expect to have a brush with the law. The New York Times just had an article on how a bunch of "amateur" video tapes of the Republican Convention protests have shown that the NYPD have either doctored evidence or simply lied about what protesters did when they were arrested.

    Among other incidents, the amateur video shows defendents who were charged with resisting arrest in no way putting up a fight when arrested.

    link to article http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/12/nyregion/12video .html? [nytimes.com]
  • open-loop (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:45PM (#12236763)
    i worked on a project sort of like this with a collective in chicago. we mapped and documented surveillance camera's in chicago's loop (downtown) area. our site is up at http://open-loop.org/ [open-loop.org].

    we had some issues with security guards asking us not to tape, but mostly restricted our documentation to public areas (cameras monitoring public space), so it wasn't as much of an issue.
    the surveillance camera players have some more camera maps on their site [notbored.org]

    and probably my favorite application of this idea is the institute for applied autonomy's i-see [66.93.183.118] , which allows users to map a "path of least surveillance" through nyc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:45PM (#12236768)
    It's called an "extracurricular activity", you fucking moron. Just because he IS a professor doesn't mean that everything he does is in the capacity of a professor. Anyway, even if he is receiving funds for this, they aren't necessarily public - even if you wouldn't toss a thin dime his way, it doesn't mean that no one would.

    Moron.
  • by metlin (258108) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:00PM (#12236980) Journal
    Steve Mann isn't a nutjob -- he's essentially been a Cyborg for a while, now. He's one of the pioneers in this area, and some of his work is truly pathbreaking (such as the Eyetap device).

    His idea is that if others insist on recording all your actions, it's probably best that you record all your actions as well -- that's not so bad, when you consider the way folks can and do get framed in real life.

    Someone has to watch the watchers, or at the very least make sure that the watchers aren't making things up. I see that as a laudable goal.
  • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:09PM (#12237087)
    I'm thinking you are trolling a little Andrewkov, is it because the parent got then and than mixed up?

    I personally also know (as of today) 14 ex-military idividuals that went from DSD analysts, linguists, or technical weenies, on to the more sedate life of security guard. Some are at airports, some at crappy little supermarkets that most of us hate shopping at, let alone working.

    After running through Positive Vetting a few times and having to spend a months of ones life chatting with those voyeristic types from DSB - driving a truck for a dump site really does seem like an enjoyable lazy life to retire to. (Or driving a taxi in Toowoomba QLD AU.)

    Unless you were making a joke.... If so, please ignore me...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:13PM (#12237126)
    Taking pictures of cameras taking pictures of you is not keeping a record of your own actions.

    hth, hand
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by IPFreely (47576) <mark@mwiley.org> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:32PM (#12237369) Homepage Journal
    "What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions."

    Yeah, what he was doing didn't have much to do with recording himself. Yeah, it was a pretty pointless excercise. Yeah, it was hypocritical even.

    But his point above is valid. He should be able to make a record of his own actions.

    Historical point: Last summer there were lots of protestors running around in New York during the Republican Convention. The NY Police effeciently rounded them up and took them away, often on charges of disruption, resisting arrest and whatever else they could think of. But the protestors were smart. They had their own people out there recording the whole thing on Tape. When the cases came to court, they played it back. The protestors were not disrupting anything. They obeyed the police. they didn't resist. 90% of the cases were dropped or thrown out. Did the police bring out their own tapes of what happened? No. The citizens made recordings of themselves (and their friends) and it was very helpfull, specifically against those that were supposed to be serveiling them "fairly".

    This goes to Manns point. Those serveiling you may not necessarily use that in your best interest when it does not suite them to do so. It is up to you to do that. And who knows, if you record them, you might see them doing something they shouldn't, like false arrest.

  • by RichDice (7079) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:32PM (#12237376)
    Steve Mann gave a closing keynote on this topic ('souveillance') and a few related ones at a conference in Toronto last year. Check out what he has to say about it first-hand:

    http://epresence.tv/mediaContent/website_archived. aspx?dir=Open~Source~and~Free~Software:~Concepts,~ Controversies~and~Solutions~(May~9-11,~2004) [epresence.tv]

    Scroll to the bottom of the page to find his talk in the list.

    Cheers,
    Richard

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:37PM (#12237441) Homepage Journal
    Actually, you're incorrect on part of that. The law says that if they sell you alcohol, they get held responsible, and that their only protection is to go through a proper identification process.

    In california, for example, they may get hit with:
    #

    Sale to minors: maximum penalty of $250 and/or 24-32 hours Community Service
    #

    Sale to minors - 2nd offense: maximum penalty of $500 and/or 36-48 hours of Community Service

    So they need to check your id to protect themselves.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dwbryson (104783) <mutex&cryptobackpack,org> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:22PM (#12237978) Journal

    To say nothing of the fact that almost all malls are private property.


    Incorrect sir. Via a famous Supreme Court case from Campbell, California involving the Pruneyard Mall a whole new type of property was created.

    One can read about it on wikipedia here [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:47PM (#12238247)
    What you're joking about is actually a right, though naturally it is not available to the accused but rather to the jury of his peers.

    It's called "jury nullification". Google it.

    Anyway, where do you think that these laws COME from in the first place? God?
  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:52PM (#12238296) Homepage

    "secret" cameras really don't make any sense.)

    Some stores have both. Many clothing stores think they have a natural right to have cameras in the changing rooms, but want to hide them because they know many of their customers will disagree.

    To reveal hidden cameras, press your face against the mirror. Then press a penlight flush against the mirror to detect partially silvered "one way" mirrors.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Clockwork Apple (64497) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:00PM (#12238408) Homepage
    Yep its pretty frightening to know that such things may be going on more often than we know.

    Here is a link to the story of how the lawyers discovered the edited nature of the "evidence".

    URL:http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=0 5/ 04/14/1349256

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @07:25PM (#12240116) Homepage
    During the Repubican convention/military garrison last year, police arrested over a thousand people on all sorts of charges. Those arrested on the whole alleged lying on the parts of the police who swore out the complaints. Here's the followup, and it illustrates the point of sousveillance beautifully.

    -Remember that all protestors of the prez are subjected to HEAVY intimidation through the use of video cameras.

    From the front page of the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/12/nyregion/12vid eo .html

    Videos Challenge Accounts of Convention Unrest

    By JIM DWYER

    Published: April 12, 2005

    Dennis Kyne put up such a fight at a political protest last summer, the arresting officer recalled, it took four police officers to haul him down the steps of the New York Public Library and across Fifth Avenue.

    "We picked him up and we carried him while he squirmed and screamed," the officer, Matthew Wohl, testified in December. "I had one of his legs because he was kicking and refusing to walk on his own."

    Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.

    During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.

    A sprawling body of visual evidence, made possible by inexpensive, lightweight cameras in the hands of private citizens, volunteer observers and the police themselves, has shifted the debate over precisely what happened on the streets during the week of the convention.

    For Mr. Kyne and 400 others arrested that week, video recordings provided evidence that they had not committed a crime or that the charges against them could not be proved, according to defense lawyers and prosecutors.

    Among them was Alexander Dunlop, who said he was arrested while going to pick up sushi.

    Last week, he discovered that there were two versions of the same police tape: the one that was to be used as evidence in his trial had been edited at two spots, removing images that showed Mr. Dunlop behaving peacefully. When a volunteer film archivist found a more complete version of the tape and gave it to Mr. Dunlop's lawyer, prosecutors immediately dropped the charges and said that a technician had cut the material by mistake.

    Seven months after the convention at Madison Square Garden, criminal charges have fallen against all but a handful of people arrested that week. Of the 1,670 cases that have run their full course, 91 percent ended with the charges dismissed or with a verdict of not guilty after trial. Many were dropped without any finding of wrongdoing, but also without any serious inquiry into the circumstances of the arrests, with the Manhattan district attorney's office agreeing that the cases should be "adjourned in contemplation of dismissal."

    So far, 162 defendants have either pleaded guilty or were convicted after trial, and videotapes that bolstered the prosecution's case played a role in at least some of those cases, although prosecutors could not provide details.

    Besides offering little support or actually undercutting the prosecution of most of the people arrested, the videotapes also highlight another substantial piece of the historical record: the Police Department's tactics in controlling the demonstrations, parades and rallies of hundreds of thousands of people were largely free of explicit violence.

    Throughout the co

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