Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Police brutality? Forget calling the news van, just yank out your cell.

My roommate Dustin just got a Droid the other day. We were comparing his phone and my iPhone, and the apps that we like the best on the two devices. There are so many cool things that one can do with an internet-enabled smart phone that were almost science fiction a few years. ago. Barcode scanning, text-to-speech (and vice versa) and the ability to stream live video and photos from the phone directly to the web.

This last one particularly caught our interest, as it negates the process of transferring the data from your phone to a computer, and then uploading it to the net. With web apps such as Ustream and Qik, the user must simply point and shoot-- the video is automatically saved to the user's online account, available for viewing immediately by anyone.

We thought of the possibilities of this. In the past several years, footage of breaking news has been captured on cell phone cameras, as they are almost ubiquitous on modern handsets. From the tube bombings in London, to the street protests in Tehran, hundreds of people have been turned from eyewitness to video journalist simply by pulling out their cell phones and hitting the record button. Now with 3G (and soon 4G) connectivity becoming standard on cell phones, this kind of street level, on-the-spot news coverage will not only become more widespread, but will be in real time, with no delay between the event being recorded and people being able to log on and watch it on their computers or phones.

In instances like the shooting of Oscar Grant by BART police in San Francisco last year, the police confiscated the cameras and cell phones of anyone they saw at the scene. This illegal confiscation of private property by the police was not only theft, but a stifling of the first amendment. As Carlos Miller pointed out in a blog post published after the shooting, photographing a crime isn't a crime itself. The police have no right to confiscate cameras (or phones as the case may be) unless the camera has been used in the commission of the crime.

The services that Qik and Ustream provide should serve as a warning to police everywhere: your deeds and actions can now be recorded by the public anywhere at any time and uploaded in real time for the world to see. Stealing our cameras will no longer protect you, and will only make you look worse.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous background services said...

Yes cameras maybe used as an evidence especially on footage that were not stated publicly by the authorities. But somehow if we will do a background check on the past years there are many instances that cameras are used for shooting scandals which are also against the law.

December 9, 2010 at 3:31 AM  
Anonymous family reunions t shirts said...

yes i agree on that making used of it to blackmail other people. That maybe useful but it depends on how you will use it for good or for bad.

December 18, 2010 at 5:04 AM  

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