As cameras and mobile broadcasting become a part of our mobile life, we need to think about the pros and cons of our citizen surveillance society.
Globally, netizens have begun documenting civil disobedience in their communities. Today it is so prevalent that, as profiled by Wired, some police officers and emergency workers wield shiny government-issued iPhones, receiving images from crime and accident scenes.
However, as citizens increasingly police each other, do we create a potentially unhealthy vigilante society?
For an extreme example, one can examine the aptly named “Dog poop girl” incident from South Korea. In a Seoul subway, a young woman incited national outrage when her small dog defecated in the train. The woman received international fame after citizens captured the woman, when given a tissue, leaving the mess and cleaning her dog.
After the pictures were posted online, the girl’s identification leaked and was posted for the public. Shamed by the resulting press coverage and public scrutiny, the girl’s family was verbally accosted and she left her university. She was later reduced to issuing a video apology with her dog.
As I mentioned, most new phones are equipped with a camera these days, creating citizen journalism as never before. Former VA Governor George Allen can testify to that. His off the cuff “macaca” comment effectively derailed his Senate candidacy and ruined his Presidential aspirations. Internationally, we all saw pictures of Saddam Hussein’s demise via mobile video.
Camera phones are also the bane of image-conscious corporate entities. For instance, take the story profiled by The Consumerist yesterday about a grandmother who was attacked by Jet Blue after she recorded an altercation between two passengers on a flight.
There are many positives aspects of mobile surveillance. We citizens can impact crime, and democratize surveillance to make our neighborhoods safer places and hold public servants accountable. The big negative? Step out of your home, or open your blinds and the public eye is upon you…(Minority Report anyone?).
What do YOU think about the impact of citizen surveillance?