This morning while speaking with MG Michael we talked about the limitations of wearables.
Those who argue that they wear their video recorders 24x7 need to start qualifying their statements.
There were the embarrassing Google StreetView lessons learnt when Google first began its mission- people caught in the field-of-view from a public road using their "outside dunny (toilet)" while reading their newspaper, people caught drunk to oblivion on the front of their home lawn, bus drivers "peeing" by the side-walk 'behind' a bus while thinking no one was watching and much more... Here are some examples to trigger your memories. And here is how to get yourself removed if you found yourself in a compromising photo.
Now, it's really important to note that Google don't just use cars, they also have other form factors recording- e.g. bicycles, as depicted below.
Here are some 2009 images from Australia!
The images above are conservative as opposed to some I have chosen NOT to embed into this blogpost for fear of further privacy breach to the individuals concerned.
As I've said in a previous post on this site, introducing Digital Glass means that we are to some extent going beyond Google StreetCars, Google StreetBicycles and the like. We are wardriving on foot now with Digital Glass, sousveilling the streets now with mobile drones; these drones just happen to be voluntary human subjects wearing one or more cameras.
But what happens when people use the toilet and the record button is on their digital glass? What happens when people go to bed? Do they take off their glass? What happens when someone is disciplining their child about an incident- are they recording the wrongdoings of the child as they try to make them understand why their actions were inappropriate? What happens when people are having an argument, and things that should never be uttered come into the fore disclosing very personal details or behaviour that was irrational in speech? What happens when you learn the news that someone has died, and feel like your whole world has collapsed around you? What happens when you are visiting a sick person in hospital who is terminally ill, and they are reduced to skin and bones? Visiting a friend in jail? The list goes on and on. Surely the camera MUST be turned off.
In our discussion this morning, MG Michael deliberated on such events, that are of a highly personal and intimate nature. He has written previously about the need for privacy in such moments in life. This does not mean, as we have written in numerous articles, that one seeks for cameras to be turned off because they are doing something wrong or wish to commit a crime but because some things are just "no-go" zones for outside viewing.
Don't be fooled- cameras on people WILL not reduce crimes! Criminals will just get better at corruption, in its manual or digital form. The more digital the corruption, the greater the potential that the stakes are higher and the corruption is of a more sinister and gross form. And I'm not just talking corporate fraud here.
So "point of eye" (PoE) as Professor Steve Mann rightly calls it, inspired some additional thoughts in MG Michael about censorship, exclusion, deletion, information representation, which are all core concepts of the limitation of living in an uberveillance society. In fact, PoE can be the manner in which one decides to censor their field of view.
Consider the following simple scenario. A male goes to the toilet. As he goes about his business he does not look down while wearing a digital camera but he looks straight ahead. This is selective recording, in a way, a type of censorship. Even worse, while the male goes to wash his hands, he takes a look into the mirror, and the reflection records someone else going to the toilet with their crown jewels in full view.
By nature, our own PoE will capture ourselves in the best light, but the other person either deliberately or accidentally in the worst light. Of course, all this will depend on prior relationships. If they are family, likely we will record them in the best light, if they are friends much the same, if they are strangers we might be indifferent...
Taking the scenario further, body worn video recorders that will soon be worn by some police and citizens alike, may/may not take footage of a given incident, depending on the lifeworld of the wearer. The incident may be 100% in their field of view, but because their "point of eye" neglects to record it by the turn of their head, the evidence is not gathered and stored for further inspection. You see, digital glass does not have a 360 degree camera view, it is not a headband that has embedded cameras at the back of our head, side, looking up and down etc. The camera is STILL in the control of the wearer, and he or she can decide what they wish to gather or exclude. This has huge implications, and till now, has not been addressed by any other academic researcher to our knowledge.
Make no mistake, while this technology may limit the extent of complaints against police regarding brutality, the limitations of video will always exist. The PoE is in the control of the beholder who comes endowed with his/her own lifeworld- it is their subjective reality. This has a great impact on evidence gathering/direct evidence in a court of law, in how police will manage prosecutions and complaint handling, and how crowdsourcing will becoming increasingly important in the field of policing to corroborate stories. We will not be complacent in the future with just ONE field of view, but multiple, and even then we will never have omniscience.