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Should Cops Wear Google Glass? 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-eyes-have-it dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Over at The Kernel, staff writer Greg Stevens wonders whether police departments around the world should outfit their officers with Google Glass. There's some logic behind the idea. A cop with wearable electronics constantly streaming audio and video back to a supervisor (or even a Website) would be less likely, at least in theory, to take liberties with civilians' civil liberties. But not everybody thinks it's such a good idea. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, wrote in a recent blog posting that society needs to make choices 'about the extent to which we want to allow the government to store up that data so that it has the power to hit 'rewind' on everybody's lives.' In the view of that organization, 'that's just too much power.' That being said, law enforcement wearing electronics that streams constant video and audio data would still be subject to the law. 'If the officer is recording a communication he has in public with someone, there's probably no wiretap problem since there's at least the consent of one party and no expectation of privacy,' Hanni M. Fakhoury, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in an email to Slashdot. 'But if he's recording peripheral communications between two separate individuals, than there's potential wiretap liability depending on the circumstances.' What do you think? Are cops wearing Google Glass (or similar wearable electronic) a good idea?"
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Should Cops Wear Google Glass?

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  • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @04:09PM (#44601955)
    I don't understand why so much of the focus on google glass is on the video camera. Lots of devices can record video, that's nothing new.

    If police should be wearing google glass, it would be because it can provide heads up information, as opposed to the rather bulky laptop-based systems now in their cruisers.

    • by AtariEric (571910)
      My thoughts exactly. With face recognition (likely at the station), the officer can be informed whether the person he's looking at has a warrant or not. Ditto with licence plates. Of course, that can be a double-edged sword...
      • by Xicor (2738029)
        but thats against the law without a warrant. i think they should just have standard head mounted cameras, like utah is doing for their cops
        • Facial recognition isn't efficient or accurate enough to work well for general law enforcement, but it wouldn't require a warrant.

          License plate recognition is the hot new law enforcement tool that is very efficient and accurate, and also does not require a warrant. Nearly every new patrol car is being outfitted with license plate recognition technology in the US. Some are manually activated, but most of them constantly record the location of every license plate that it "sees", and logs that data in a nati

          • by icebike (68054) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @07:38PM (#44603429)

            I doubt the database is national.

            But its not warranted in any case.

            The old saw is that you have no expectation of privacy in public. But that is merely a play on words, and is a shallow argument.

            We have an expectation of going about our business without being tracked, and stalked by authorities (or anyone else) for no reason at all.
            The public space is owned equally by all, and simply because you walk down a sidewalk or drive down a road there is no valid reason for the government to record that event, or to be able to prove that you did walk or drive there. Its not their space. Its OUR space. Privacy by virtue of anonymity in public is the normal expectation in a large urban area. The chances of meeting someone on the street that recognizes you is inversely proportional to the population density, and that is the natural condition that humans have had forever. Because it is possible to eliminate this natural anonymity doesn't make it right just because you are in a public place.

            If someone followed you around, you could call the cops on them, and they would be questioned and detained long enough for you to at least get out of sight. Unless they were a cop themselves. But somehow police get this right for no reason at all.

            All stolen/wanted vehicle plate numbers should be downloaded to these police cars, and the plate recognition software should check against THAT LIST ONLY, and immediately discard any other recognized plate number. Don't allow it to be kept for even 10 seconds.

            Its pointless to even allow this functionality at all, because when a vehicle is stolen the first thing that happens is that the plates are changed out. The focus is not to recover stolen vehicles. Its to keep tabs on everybody.

        • ...but thats against the law without a warrant.

          What is? Automatic scanning of license plates for crimes associated with them? Takes place already all over the United States - no warrant required. Running people's faces through facial recognition to ferret out those who are wanted for crimes? Happens already - no warrant required.

          What gives you the idea that these sorts of actions require a warrant? They don't in the United States, and I'll bet the Brits where doing it LONG before us here (in the USA) - for example the surveillance situation in London..

          • If the police actually acknowledged that the Fourth Amendment existed, it would require a warrant. That's literally no different from demanding everyone be fingerprinted and that cops can routinely stop you and check your prints to see if you're wanted for any crimes.
        • by Pseudonym (62607)

          Then forward the video to the NSA and let them do the face recognition. By the power of magic, this is legal.

    • I don't understand why so much of the focus on google glass is on the video camera. Lots of devices can record video, that's nothing new.

      Because it enables constant video recording in a way which is much easier than using a separate video camera or a smartphone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Frosty Piss (770223) *

        Because it enables constant video recording in a way which is much easier than using a separate video camera or a smartphone.

        The point is that glasses with video cameras have been available for quite some time. As well, there are devices specifically targeted at Law Enforcement that you can clip to your pocket that also can "stream" video to a recorder or Internet connection.

        The thing that Glass has is the "HUD".

    • by Seumas (6865)

      Currently, every police car is equipped with facilities to allow the tracking of license plates (cars) of citizens throughout the city.

      Strapping cameras to their heads turns every cop into a non-stop surveillance machine in ways that would otherwise be difficult to implement in most cities (ie, throwing cameras up all over the place, UK-style).

    • by houghi (78078) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @05:01PM (#44602295)

      Yeah, they can immediately see what they can arrest you for,
        as we all are guilty of breaking some law.
      All they have to do is link everything you did to the laws and they will find something. At least enough to find a reason to trow away your rights.

      The great power of cross referencing.

    • Q: How will heads up information help catch criminals that wear badges?
      A) It won't. It will make them better at being criminals wearing badges.
    • Many agencies already have every officer wearing wearable video ( such as those from this company: http://www.vievu.com/ [vievu.com] ).

      Google would be a bad solution, though - they have a history of lying to the public and abusing data (PRISM) in a way that puts most local agencies to shame. Would people really want to give Google that much more power?

      Better - require law enforcement to wear cameras without specifying a vendor - and instead create a legal framework that would cover under what conditions and to wh

  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @04:11PM (#44601963) Journal

    If the recording is "missing" for any reason, or if the cop stops recording or removes the recording device for any reason other than someone else breaking it (and visibly doing so), everything the cop says about the unrecorded events should be assumed to be a lie.

    • Yes. It should be punishable too, like as if they lost their weapon.
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Indeed. If anyone should actually subject to "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" it is that subset of individuals whom society has appointed to exercise extraordinary powers on it's behalf.

    • by houghi (78078)

      When things like this [youtube.com] go on, what you want is wishful thinking.
      "Our officer used appropriate force in a dangerous situation." and the guy they shot was sleeping (and the wrong guy)

    • by EdZ (755139)
      Great in theory. How do you deal with bathroom breaks, and any sort of sensitive information (e.g. viewing case records, either on a computer or physical documents) that whoever may be viewing the video should not have access to, talking with at-risk witnesses (who may feel threatened and not give information at all if they feel their identities may become known), or even just talking to the general public in the comfort of their own homes (i.e. 'neighbourhood policing')?
      I'm all for issuing every police of
  • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @04:13PM (#44601981) Homepage Journal

    The streams from these "cop cameras" have to be restricted so that they can only be accessed by the officer's supervisors and with a subpoena. I strongly object to the proposals some have made that the footage be made public. I do not want my every interaction with the police made public, even if it's getting a jaywalking ticket.

    "Innocent until proven guilty" can't be achieved when facing the court of public opinion.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      Not only that but it would also not be good for the cop either (lets assume that not all cops are bad for a moment)

      If the streams were just made public so that anyone could watch them, you know damn well the criminals would be watching them as well. So using some search tools and a simple map program the criminals would be able to pinpoint the cops exact locations at all time. worst case they use this info to sell drugs or rob trucks, worst case they go cop killing or killing at random.

      Cop cars have d
      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        But if the streams aren't made public then how will the footage be used against the police themselves? And don't say a supervisor will release it. If the police maintain control of the footage, all police brutality/murder footage will vanish almost as soon as it is recorded.

        In my state the police used dashcams for a while until they discovered that the additional video evidence caused them to lose cases a lot more often than it helped them win them. So they ended the program. Police will always protect thei

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        A delay, say twenty-four hours, would solve those problem nicely. If your patterns are obvious enough to be derived from the historical feed then you can be pretty sure the local thugs already know them.

    • by 0111 1110 (518466)

      The streams from these "cop cameras" have to be restricted so that they can only be accessed by the officer's supervisors

      If the cops have access to the footage they will just delete it whenever it contains evidence against one of them.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Indeed, there's no reason to intentionally accelerate the loss of privacy in our society. There should be a way for anyone to get access in a timely manner though - if I claim officer #666 did something wrong then I or my lawyer should be able to get a copy of the footage for the time period in question, though maybe not until an independent assessor reviews the footage to confirm that something questionable may have occurred. I'm sure the county courthouse could hire "professional witnesses" to do such a

    • I'm fine with it. There's little difference between cops wearing portable cameras, and cops wearing Google Glass. I only worry that Google Glass, being a Beta version of a new interface, may not be the best implementation. It may prove to be more of a distraction than an improvement.

      What more, given the rash of police / civilian incidents recently, I question increasing the capabilities of the police, at least until the kinks are worked out in terms of their personnel, as well as the law that they are enfor

    • So what you're saying is you want the current system where the police are the ones monitoring the police and we just have to trust that they aren't corrupt. It doesn't need to be made public, but there damn sure needs to be a committee of non-government employees who monitors the video / evaluates all complaints against the police.
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I'd only amend:
      "The streams from these "cop cameras" have to be restricted so that they can only be accessed by the officer's supervisors and with a subpoena..."
      to add: "...or if a complaint is lodged against the officer."

      Personally, while I understand that cops abuse their power occasionally (and that sort of behavior needs IMMEDIATE and severe punishment), I find that the amount of bullshit, lies, and general grief that police GET from the public is nearly unending. Frankly, I'm surprised more cops DON'T

  • by tranquilidad (1994300) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @04:24PM (#44602063)

    The San Francisco Fire Chief just banned [sfgate.com] fire helmet mounted cameras after helmet-cam footage from the Asiana crash became public. Some say it was done to protect the privacy of victims, others to protect the city from liability as in this case where one of the victims was still alive when run over by a responding fire truck.

    • I find it curious that law enforcement wants to monitar all things, except themselves.
      • by Xicor (2738029)
        it isnt law enforcement that monitors everything... it is our government. law enforcement just abuses information and doesnt really follow the law
  • I see privacy issues both ways. If the cops is required to wear Google glasses all the time, we have an issue where the cops cannot use the restroom or eat in privacy. And if he takes them off, then some lawyer will be upset about the missing time. I also see a problem with overriding the individual judgement of the cop. What if he feels he HAS to write a ticket instead of just give a warning, because his every move is being monitored by someone. I think we should just stick with dashcams
    • The camera should be part of the badge/gun combo, privacy be damned.
    • What if he feels he HAS to write a ticket instead of just give a warning, because his every move is being monitored by someone.

      It's not his job to be a judge or jury. But at the same time, where is the balance between doing your job and common sense discretion? You could always have the video connected to a panel of grand jurists that review alleged offenses and issue indictments in real time. Sooner or later you would just have drone bots on the beat. I wonder if radical profiling would still be an issue...

  • There are only a few states left that have "Consent of All Parties" laws. That is, EVERYBODY has to consent, in order for something to be recorded.

    Over time, state after state has passed laws to allow "one party consent". That is, only the party doing the recording has to "consent" to be recorded. And that's bullshit. The laws were passed to make it easier for law enforcement (and corporations) to gather surveillance on other people.

    This needs to change. "All party consent" makes very good sense and i
    • by EvilSS (557649)
      Careful what you wish for. Two party consent would also punish you from recording your interactions with law enforcement, or recording abusive calls that you receive.
      • Not at all.

        I actually spent quite a bit of time in one of the states with "all party consent" and it works just fine. The thing is: you can record conversations... it's not illegal. You just can't use it as evidence in court.

        Most of the calls that you would be interested in recording are already being recorded by the other party anyway (like law enforcement), harassing bill collectors, etc.) and that constitutes "consent", so you can record away and know that you CAN use it in court. If anyone, at any
        • by EvilSS (557649)

          The thing is: you can record conversations... it's not illegal. You just can't use it as evidence in court. Most of the calls that you would be interested in recording are already being recorded by the other party anyway (like law enforcement), harassing bill collectors, etc.) and that constitutes "consent", so you can record away and know that you CAN use it in court. If anyone, at any time during the conversation, says "this call may be recorded", you have your consent..

          Uh, you are so wrong there. Not sure about all states but at least in Illinois, it's a misdemeanor that moves to a felony if the other (uninformed) party is a law enforcement official or state's attorney. Until recently this also covered recording police officers in public. That part, at least, was finally struck down by a federal court.

    • by dwillden (521345)
      You have it backwards, one party consent laws are designed to protect the public from inadvertent violation of wiretapping laws. Want to record the professor's lecture to help with your notes and study, make sure you get written approval from not only the prof but also from everybody who enters or exits the room while your recorder is running.

      Oh and Government is not allowed to be one of the consenting parties. If they want to record someone they need a warrant. One party is actually better if you unders
      • "One party is actually better if you understand how it really works."

        I do understand how it works. Nevertheless, I disagree completely.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      You raise a fair point, but the flip side is also true: one of the greatest tools we have in bringing abuse of authority to light is the ability of a passerby with a cell phone to capture evidence of the crime, and I think that's something we probably want to keep legal.

    • Over time, state after state has passed laws to allow "one party consent". That is, only the party doing the recording has to "consent" to be recorded. And that's bullshit. The laws were passed to make it easier for law enforcement (and corporations) to gather surveillance on other people.

      It works both ways. Don't take away my ability to catch a cop in a lie and make them look like an ass in court. It also comes in handy with psychotic soon to be ex-lovers, and in also come in employment discrimination and harassment cases. Like a good lock, it keeps people honest.

      • You can record anything you want in public, which is the vast majority of police encounters. That doesn't change.

        The only time you need "consent" to record something is if it's in a setting that has a "reasonable" expectation of privacy attached to it. That excludes about 99.99% of situations that involve police.

        If you're having trouble with a psychotic ex, get a court order to allow the calls to be recorded. Or record him/her freaking out somewhere outside, like on the public sidewalk. No big deal.
  • As long as we can too.

  • Can the cop OR their supervisor OR the police department turn the glasses off on demand?

    • Yes. They simply throw them off "in the heat of the moment" because it is "endangering them" to have them on.
  • There's so much potential for abuse.

    First, to be on the cop's side -- these aren't just security cameras watching specific areas from a distance, this is directly monitoring someone's work. I'm not foolish enough to trust any of them, but I venture to guess that the majority of cops are well-meaning and ethical, and do not throw the power trips you see an abundance of on Youtube. I'd quit any job if my employer tried to look over my shoulder in this way. But then again, my job as a software dev does not giv

  • As a victim of police brutality and the inevitable frame-up cover charges that followed and the violent criminal record to show for it, I definitely endorse this idea.

    What's more I think any of the typical contempt of cop [wikipedia.org] charges or even more ambitious/serious cover charges [sussexcountyjustice.com] like assault and battery with a deadly weapon or drug/firearm possession should be automatically thrown out if the officer does not have 100% video coverage of the event. Cops, especially American ones, have proven again and again that t

  • by Nyder (754090)

    people in power abuse their power. Mainly if they aren't subject to any sort of scrutiny on how they do their job. History has shown this time and time again. And if you have trouble remembering history, the NSA is currently a prime example of power being abused because of lack of scrutiny.

    Cops work for the people, they need to be completely accountable while on duty, and in this day and age, that include video surveillance.

    To put it in terms the average americans could understand. It protects the c

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @05:04PM (#44602313)

    It is a good idea to have cops wear personal video recorders at all times.

    By the same token, it might be a good idea for a lot of other people to do the same thing.

    The wiretap laws need to be adjusted to make recording anything you might otherwise see with your eyes permissible unless its copyrighted information. Obviously you can't have people walking into movie theaters with cameras active. But a lot of situations legally would be a lot more simplistic if we had video evidence in all altercations.

    Corruption and bribery would be less of an issue. Various types of non-fatal assault... accidents. All of it would be easier to process if we had video evidence.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      And all you have to sacrifice is your right to privacy and anonymity. To be watched 24/7 every time you leave your house. And if you have an XBox One, even while you're in your house.

      Screw that.

  • 8 pm - 8.20 : shakey head cam shot of the sargeant at the station getting a low down on what to expect and assignments.
    8.20 - 8.45: shakey head cam shot of donuts and coffee
    8.45 - 10 : shakey head cam shot of the taillights of the car in front of the cruiser
    10 - 10.05 : shakey head cam shot of the officer peeing all the coffee out
    10.05 - 10.07 : shakey head cam shot of the officer's path out of the donut shop with coffee and another donut
    10.07 - 10.15 : shakey head cam shot of officer writing a park
  • It should be a requirement. They are public servants operating in a public environment. When issuing a summons, the recorded event should be a requirement demonstrating probable cause. Judges should require presentation of the recorded event during the arraignment. Sounds like transparency to me. Nothing wrong with that. Following arraignment let the jurist decide applicability and culpability.

    • It should be a requirement. They are public servants operating in a public environment.

      That's fine then. There are tons of ways this can be abused, but dash cams are already being used that way. If the police wear cameras, then there should be cameras in every room of the police station, and everyone should have access to the video at all times. Bathroom Stalls? Audio recorders in there then. If the police are not being recorded, then say they're off the clock and have no authority to enforce the law.

      At least it would make them do their dirty business beyond the tax funded property an

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        If the police are not being recorded, then say they're off the clock and have no authority to enforce the law.

        I approve of this idea.

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @05:18PM (#44602417)

    A cop with wearable electronics constantly streaming audio and video back to a supervisor (or even a Website) would be less likely, at least in theory, to take liberties with civilians' civil liberties.

    Yes, which is why it won't happen.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      but it does happen. In the UK some police have taken to wearing very obvious cameras [cameras4sports.co.uk], partly to protect the policeman and partly to add evidence where necessary - can cut down on expensive trials and paperwork [bbc.co.uk] if you can play back the footage to the suspect once he's been caught. It also acts as a deterrent, apparently, though I figure a policeman in the area does that, they don't need a camera if they're there.

      These have been used openly since 2006 [metro.co.uk] in some areas.

  • is as good as mine.

  • by JustNiz (692889)

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen cops in cop cars miss stuff happening right in front of them because the cop has been fully focused on the laptop screen mounted in his car.

    Basically anything that increases the chances of me not getting caught speeding is fine by me.

  • by Above (100351) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @05:42PM (#44602659)

    The Rialto PD did a real world study, with a write up in the New York Times [nytimes.com] plus a formal report by a Cambridge University Professor [policefoundation.org].

    The results were overwhelming positive. Use of unnecessary force on citizens dropped. Bogus complaints against officers dropped. Time spent dealing with he-said she-said situations dropped.

    Big cities should be jumping on this technology. In 2012 New York City spent 735 Million Dollars [businessweek.com] on settlements. I suspect cameras would dramatically reduce that number, both from officers being forced to be more careful but also from bogus citizen complaints being quickly dismissed with video proof.

    Is Google Glass the right answer, no. It does way more than just video, and has cost and durability concerns. However personal video cameras are the answer, every cop (and probably firefighter and paramedic) should wear one.

    • by EvilSS (557649)
      There have been several studies on this recently and all had the same results: Complaints against officers as well as officers use of force dropped dramatically.
  • Regardless of what should happen, the eventual end-game is that everyone will be recording everything around them, all the time [wikipedia.org].

    On the plus side, that will make the courts' job easier in most cases -- instead of unreliable and/or dishonest witness testimony, you'll have multiple streams of audio and video to look at.

    On the minus side, no privacy for anyone outside their shuttered home... and anything you say or do in public will be recorded forever, so no living down any regrettable mistakes, either.

  • And they will be able to wear them other places everyone else is restricted from.

    It will be one more thing the police are allowed to use(against you), that you can't use.
    • by 0111 1110 (518466)

      Actually the right to record police has been affirmed by state supreme courts in pretty much every state now. Massachusetts was one of the last. We can finally record them with confidence that at least the law would be on our side, but that doesn't mean they will not just smash the recorder and then beat you to death with the remains of it. These are dangerous, violent, angry, unpredictable people with no sense of right or wrong.

  • Should be used to make police accountable for there actions, far to many police abuse there power, i know here in canada more people are terrified of the cops than in some 3rd world countries at least the corruption in 3rd world countries is somewhat standardized and a few bucks can get you out of 'trouble' here its all about power and control.

    in the immortal words of the N.W.A
    Fuck the police

  • It was either that, or "what are we going to do with all the videos of doughnuts and hookers?"
  • Complicated Balance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @07:38PM (#44603419)

    Considering the immense amount of power bestowed upon them and how they continue to demonstrate just how undeserving of it really are, we certainly want all actions of law enforcement to be fiercely scrutinized with the undeceiving eyes and ears of a camera and microphone. On the other hand, it carries a considerable potential to frequently violate individuals' privacy.

    On balance, it should probably be uploaded to a private server, accessible only to some sort of civil rights watchdog group with the power to charge law enforcement with violations; and these charges need to have TEETH. No, officer, you don't get a paid vacation for bludgeoning and tazing a suspect because he might have been a bit rude or simply defensive of his rights ... you get charged for felony assault with a deadly weapon AND your wages/pension/whatever are garnished until you've paid out restitution, medical bills, etc.

    A court order would be required for police access to specific footage and an additional, separate order for general publication. Release to private citizens or attorneys strictly for the purposes of legal defense would require only identification and an internal report.

    Additionally, police should be required to immediately relinquish their duties to a fellow officer the instant the recording device ceases to function for any reason and continue only when it is repaired or replaced. Otherwise, the entire system is useless because oops, it just happened to malfunction at exactly the time I was accused of beating the suspect to a pulp -- I swear, he tripped and fell!

    But who am I kidding... this is all a pipe dream as we are waaaaay too far down the rabbit hole of tyranny for anything like this to gain traction.

  • I think its a great idea, if it is streamed to a separate departments server (say the prosecutors office, clerks office, etc) that has an obligation to keep the footage intact and unedited as a matter of law. And that officers who remove or have "accidents" with their video gear at "inconvenient" times are SEVERELY reprimanded (fired, prosecuted, etc). As we have seen all too many times, if officers have access to evidence that will implicate them in a crime (Oscar Grant Shooting, Hollywood FL framing, Mi

  • Reminds me of the cops in that series.
    The creepy thing is that almost everything I see in the news almost every day reminds me of the dystopian future in that TV-series.
    The trick they did was to place everything in 2077 - when in reality it's just around the corner.

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