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TAG | sousveillance


Party in limo

In two separate cases recently Uber has, or has talked about, abusing its information about their customer’s movements.

First a Buzzed reporter Johana Bhuiyan was told that she was tracked on the way to a meeting by Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber New York.

Next Emil Michael, SVP of business for Uber, talked at a private dinner about the possibility of using the information Uber has about hostile reporters to gather dirt on them. (more…)

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There is a lot of buzz right now about how Google Glass will lead to some kind of universal George Orwell type surveillance state.

I think this misses the point. We are going there without Google Glass. Private surveillance is becoming ubiquitous. Any place of business is almost certain to have cameras. After the Boston bombings, we are likely to see the same proliferation of street cameras that has already happened in London any many other places.

The meteor in russia earlier this year made me aware of just how common personal dash board cameras are in Russia. It seems likely that they will be common everywhere in no too many years.

Smart phone cameras are already doing an amazing job of capturing almost any event that takes place anywhere in the world.

So, you are probably being filmed by at least one camera at almost all times any time you are away from your house.

David Brin and others have been arguing for “sousveillance”. If surveillance is those with power looking down from above, sousveillance is those without power looking back. It tends to have a leveling effect. Law enforcement officers are less likely to abuse their power if they are being recorded by private cameras. Similarly and simultaneously they are protected against false claims of abuse from citizens.

I would rather see ubiquitous private cameras than ubiquitous government cameras. If there is a major incident, the public will send in requested footage, but it would make broad drift net fishing, and facial recognition based tracking more difficult.

An interesting counter trend may be in the creation of camera free private spaces. Private clubs, restaurants, gyms, etc. may all differentiate themselves in part based on their surveillance / sousveillance policies.

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