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A Law to Spy Back on Government Surveillance Cameras? 229

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the who's-gonna-monitor-the-monitors-of-the-monitors. dept.
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.'"
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A Law to Spy Back on Government Surveillance Cameras?

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  • Don't worry (Score:5, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:52PM (#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.
    • I have long argued for something I coined as "meta-surveillance". Essentially, this would permit any citizen to query the surveillance network for information about how, when, where, and why s/he was surveilled - and by whom. Exceptions would only be made for those under criminal investigation.

      Granted, the latter point creates a problem, in that a negative response to one's meta-surveillance inquiry, if one were a criminal, would be a tip-off. Thus, there would always be some "loose play" in the system,

    • by Artifakt (700173)
      This isn't about cowardice. The Democrats will easily sweep both houses and the presidency, and then they will have all the POWER the republicans have lovingly accumulated for them. Why fight that?
  • Reverse Surveillance (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:53PM (#21729422) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:57PM (#21729522) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gardyloo (512791)
        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).
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:36PM (#21730314)
          I would really have liked the showercam for my 8th grade French teacher, Miss Galando.
        • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:47PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gardyloo (512791)

            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 classroo

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              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
              • by gardyloo (512791)
                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!
                • 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.
            • by Sancho (17056)
              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 whe
              • 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
                • by Sancho (17056)

                  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 bo

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    I still hold that it is perfectly reasonable. As you pointed out, no one is going to care about that low level government employee. No one is really going to care about this grad student. But where do you draw the line between 'no power' and 'i should be able to watch them.' I'm not saying I should be able to or that I'm even going to, but if I am paying part of that research I should have some sort of accountability.

                    Now as you point out, watching a grad student is going to bore me to sleep and be useless.
                    • by Sancho (17056)
                      Like I said, you're a more rational person than most. There are sites devoted to humorous random webcam images, humorous Google Street View images, etc. I'm fairly certain that if such a plan were enacted, there would be a page devoted solely to finding government employees picking their noses, for example. Individuals are still entitled to some amount of privacy, even when they're on the job, and even when they're on the clock for the people.

                      Then, of course, there's the possibility of sensitive informat
            • 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.

              Here, I'll have a go - just what influence would Joe Bloggs sitting on his backside flitting between porntube and Snoop Central have over our errant employee? Is it not the case that the IT manager is simply in a more appropriate position to take action? Y

          • 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.
          • by samkass (174571)
            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 gov
          • Super idea, but are you prepared for the inevitable collapse in public employee numbers if such a crazy scheme were enacted? What, would YOU work under such conditions? Absolutely barmy. When I buy a bottle of bleach I'm effectively paying for the "paychecks" of Unilever employees, shall we stick a webcam on their desk too?

            If you don't think these people are pulling their weight, better management is the answer, not some cack-handed "reverse surveillance" scheme.
      • by Bassman59 (519820)

        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 ...

      • I don't know if you were being sarcastic or anything, but you were modded interesting so I'll respond. I know these people are working for tax payer dollars and you want oversight, but you're probably working for private dollars and I don't think you'd be working there for too long if your boss had a webcam on you all day while at the office. Public servants still should have their right to work without a webcam pointed at them all day, because otherwise it would just be a shitty job and we wouldn't get man
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Is this the same Obama that voted to reauthorize the "Patriot Act"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        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.
    • * 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."

      In a way, a part of that has already been decreed [cnn.com] by a federal court.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      "* 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."
      Nice but a lot of data is already on line. Most people never use it.

      "* Effectively "crowd-sourcing" (though that term isn't used) some amount of agency decision-making by tapping the public's distributed expertise."
      Wonderful take a look at Digg sometime. Without some way to vet the source of the expertise you have no idea the value o
  • Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SamP2 (1097897) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:56PM (#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.
    • 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 ti
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        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
      • by kent_eh (543303)
        I think that every cop car should be required to have a tape that is rolling whenever they pull someone over.

        Don't most already?

    • 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.
    • by rho (6063)

      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.

  • ...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.
  • by jockeys (753885) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:56PM (#21729502) Journal
    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.
    • 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

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:24PM (#21730106) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        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.
      • 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.
    • by Sandbags (964742)
      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
  • I cannot be the only one that REALLY does not want to see Cheney's "intimate moments".....
    • 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: (Score:2, Funny)

      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?)
  • it's our government (Score:4, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:02PM (#21729642) Homepage Journal
    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

    • by ChronosWS (706209)
      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.
      • "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 wel
    • Yeah! And why even report back to the authorities? If you find someone you saw on the news, why not just track them using the available camera data, get a group of your buddies, and bring the person to justice on your own! No need to waste some police officer's valuable time. I might be over-exaggerating but the last thing I want is 30,000 busy bodies looking through camera data for people SUSPECTED of a crime that they heard about on the fear-mongering news station. It's bad enough that police have access
  • noooo (Score:5, Funny)

    by dotpavan (829804) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:04PM (#21729684) Homepage
    that would kill the "in Soviet Russia.." meme
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JavaBrain (920722)
      Something like?

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

  • Sousveillance (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:11PM (#21729862) Homepage Journal
    This sort of thing is often known as Sousveillance [wikipedia.org].

    It just so happens that this coming Monday, December 24th is orld Sousveillance day. [wikipedia.org]
  • Not for me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cadeon (977561)
    Protect my Privacy by invading yours? Sounds like our current foreign policy.
  • Spy Yourself (Score:3, Informative)

    by mycal (135781) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:15PM (#21729936) Journal

    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

  • I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:20PM (#21730036) Homepage
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StarEmperor (209983)
      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 (Score:5, Funny)

        by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:59PM (#21730726) Homepage Journal

        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.

      • by GryMor (88799)
        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
      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        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 t

    • by hyades1 (1149581)

      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, n

    • 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."
  • 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 momen
  • Paging David Brin (Score:5, Informative)

    by StarEmperor (209983) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:26PM (#21730148) Homepage
    The Transparent Society [davidbrin.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:26PM (#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]
  • 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

  • One work day, I took a picture of every camera (except for 3 where I was thrown out of a store) that could take a picture of me. Here are my results: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neoliminal/sets/72157600350750369/ [flickr.com]

    Enjoy looking at them looking at me.
  • by blhack (921171) on Monday December 17, 2007 @05:07PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sloppy (14984)

      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

      • by blhack (921171)
        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
        • by Vegeta99 (219501)
          Because even if we don't have speed limits, you still have to drive a speed that is reasonable and prudent.

          219 miles an hour is not either of those. Racing off of the race track is not either. If I hit something going 75MPH? It's gonna hurt. 219 MPH? It's not going to hurt because I've been liquefied before my nerves can even depolarize.
          • by blhack (921171)
            hitting somebody at 75 MPH is going to do a lot more than hurt. both parties involved will more than likely end up dead.

            My point with the jackass 219 lambo guy is that he DIDN'T get caught doing it, and he DIDN'T hurt anybody in the process. What scares me is that this guy is getting prosecuted simply because he COULD have caused damages. In my opinion, penalizing people for things that they COULD have done is simply absurd. To me, this is even worse than the concept outlined in 'Minority Report'. In t
  • ... 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 Vancouv
  • 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
  • Surely agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wikinerd (809585) on Monday December 17, 2007 @06:48PM (#21732302) Journal

    I agree with sousveillance. In fact for me the problem is not so much the invasion of privacy, but rather the monopoly of surveillance. I don't really have much of a problem with cameras (although I am a bit unsure about microphones just above the seats in subway stations - how exactly do they protect the subway's property and the public?), but my problem is actually who has access to the recorded data and who gets the monopoly of surveillance...

    For example: A supermarket here has two signs, one saying "you are on CCTV" and another saying "you can't operate recording equipment here". The first sign (CCTV) is ok. But the second sign is problematic: Suppose I want to put a camera on my head and let it record 24h and send pics over a 3G or WiFi connection to my server, in case someone attacks me and kills me on the street or on a mountain, so that the police etc can see the pics from the camera and catch the killer (this is good for society as well, not only for me, in fact sometimes I think that everyone should have such a safety device). If a supermarket tells me that operating my own personal safety camera is not ok, then it should at least accept liability in case someone kills me while inside their premises. I'm paranoid here to make a point, and in fact I don't have such a safety device on me, but I could have one if I wanted, and my question is: Why should I give up my safety to buy a banana? Why should I trust that the supermarket is a safe place and not operate my own safety camera? One could argue that I have much more important assets to protect (my life which is one-off) than the supermarket's company (their material property which can easily be repurchased in case of a criminal attack). So, why on earth should the supermarket operate cameras but not me? One could say that the supermarket is the owner of its land and can decide the rules, but my answer is whether it is reasonable to expect to give up one's safety just to buy something to eat.

    To give a real example of frustation with unbalanced supermarket policies (unbalanced in the meaning that the policies are designed only with the supermarket in mind, not taking into account customer needs), it has happened to me many times to enter a supermarket to buy something to eat while being on travel, of course always carrying my laptop bag because I never get out of my home office without a laptop or subnotebook, and employees always come to me and ask me to give them my laptop bag to keep it while I shop because they are afraid of shoplifters. My reaction in all cases is either to explain my reluctance and refuse to give them my laptop and continue my shopping (I specifically say "will your manager sign me a paper accepting liability of such and such thousands euros in case you lose my laptop or you damage it?"), if they let me do so under their supervision, or if I see that they don't like this (until now in 100% of all cases, and from their part this is ok if they merely follow company policies, the problem is the company policy not the individual employees) then my reaction is to not buy anything and leave, never to buy anything from the same shop again. I can't understand this paranoia in big supermarkets. I mean, in small independent shops the owner either just discreetly supervises people as they buy stuff, and this is the proper and reasonable thing to do (someone comes to buy stuff from you, you want to protect against shoplifters, the reasonable thing is to stay near them while they buy stuff and watch them, not to demand them to give you their bags or anything). In big supermarkets and department stores they demand that you surrender all your bags to them, as if bags are now some sort of dangerous weapon or something... My answer is that they already have cameras, but if they really feel so nervous they should hire more employees to oversee customers as they buy rather than take away customer's property even temporarily. Shoplifting is a serious crime that must be tackled, but passing the cost to the consumer is not ac

  • I've been talking to some of the pols in SF, CA about this same issue, I think it's brilliant to allow public access to all security cameras, it was Foucault's Discipline and Punish that first got me on the idea (he talks a lot about observation and social control structures and says one way to balance the power of omnipresent observation is to allow everyone to participate in the viewing - I'll grab the quote later if I can).

    Since we can't realistically fight the spread of cameras we should instead control

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