Too close for comfort

Here is a photograph from my personal archives from 1998. While on a business trip to Taipei, Taiwan, I was fortunate to be able to celebrate the National day of the Republic of China/ Double Tenth Day.

During festivities near the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall a peaceful anti-missile protest attracted Taipei Police. The methodical way in which police arrived to the protest, and deployed staff with extra-long batons, caught my attention. No need for body worn video cameras back then by police, the widespread adoption of smart phones and social media were still a good 6-7  years away in most countries.

Courtesy: Katina Michael's personal archives

Courtesy: Katina Michael's personal archives

Stupidly, I got within 1 metre to take this photograph. I remember crouching down to get a good cascading view of all the police, and then realised I was a little too close for comfort.

Looking back I was young, naive, and could have found myself in hot water, although I found the Taiwanese people to be incredibly friendly and welcoming... There is a fine line between witness and provocation. People with cameras can sometimes overstep the mark.

Code Violation

"In addressing the audience with opening remarks on the workshop’s conception, I began with defining sousveillance and then went on to demonstrate its use. I could think of no better example of sousveillance-at-work than to show a short five minute clip taken by Mann himself in Downtown Toronto (Figure 23.10).
In this clip you will note that Steve is exercising his civil rights and pointing out to the police officer on duty that there is a risk of someone getting electrocuted because cables are exposed to pedestrians on the sidewalk. The officer on duty rejects being a subject of Mann’s visual recording. He stops Steve as he is nearing him and exclaims: “Sir, you cannot take a picture!” To this Steve questions: “Oh. Why not?” Again, the officer exhorts Steve to stop recording. To this Steve replies- “Ok, I photograph my whole life, I always have...” To this the officer says: “I don’t want to be a part of your life through a photograph. Can you erase that photo please?” Steve does not have a chance to reply at this point and again the officer interjects growing in impatience: “Did you take a picture of me?” Steve replies: “I record my life.” Again the officer extorts: “Did you take a picture of me?” To this Steve makes a correction: “I’m recording video.” The officer interjects several times: “It’s a simple question, did you take a picture of me? Answer the question, yes or no.” Steve admits to taking footage and the officer replies: “Okay, I need you to erase that.” Steve provocatively then says: “Okay, I’ll need to call my lawyer then...” The officer is disgruntled at this point and tells Steve to call his lawyer and to give him his number. The officer continues by insisting: “Do you understand the ramifications of what is going to happen here? Don’t you realise what can happen here?” Steve tells the officer to fill out an incident report about what happened."

Excerpt taken from Katina Michael & MG Michael commentary on "Wearable Computing by Steve Mann" published in Interaction-Design.org here

Courtesy: Steve Mann  Source: http://wearcam.org/password-66-450.htm

Courtesy: Steve Mann

Source: http://wearcam.org/password-66-450.htm

Shooting Back

"The City of Boston has agreed to pay Simon Glik $170,000 in damages and legal fees to settle a civil rights lawsuit. Glik was arrested in 2007 on Boston Common for using his cell phone to record the arrest of another man. Police then arrested Glik, too, and charged him under the strict Massachusetts wiretapping statute. They eventually dropped the charges, but with the help of the Massachusetts ACLU, Glik filed a civil lawsuit against the city for false arrest."

Read more here.

Read about another case (Alvarez) here.

"Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who staked out the extreme position that openly recording police officers in public placed while they perform their duties is unprotected by the First Amendment, may have done more to hurt her case than to help it. The Seventh Circuit noted that Alvarez's position was based on a misreading of Potts v. City of Lafayette, and a misapplication of the "willing speaker" principle."

Compare proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security here.

Courtesy: Karen Blumberg

Courtesy: Karen Blumberg

Dashcams and Accidents

When I went to ISTAS12 in Singapore almost every other taxi I entered had a dashcam. Here is why.

"The most horrifying car crash ever caught on film? Dash camera captures moment Ferrari hits taxi at high speed killing three. Both drivers and a passenger died in the high-speed smash in Singapore."

Courtesy: YouTube

Courtesy: YouTube

"Police gave no official estimate as to how fast the Ferrari was moving, but the extremely high speed of the collision is plain to see from the video."

Source here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2147513/Dash-camera-captures-horrific-fatal-crash-rare-Ferrari-hurtles-taxi.htm

In Russia dashcams have also proliferated in protecting oneself while on the road. Note- dashcams will NOT save your life, but they might make life after an accident easier as you might have primary evidence in clearing yourself of being "at fault".

See this story.

Courtesy: DOD Product

Courtesy: DOD Product

"It’s not all the fault of the elements, though. Corruption is rampant in the Russian Federation, and that’s led most motorists to take matters into their own hands. It’s not uncommon for a driver to be pulled over by the notorious Russian Highway Patrol (GAI) and harassed into paying a bribe. Dash cams afford at least a little protection from baseless accusations.
Lax law enforcement has also made is easier for organized crime to make millions from insurance scams. It’s a straightforward racket — crashes can be staged, or already damaged cars presented as evidence of a crash that never even occurred. The perpetrators can certainly produce witnesses that corroborate their version of events."" 

The following video is of a real-life event. Thankfully no one was seriously injured to my knowledge which is the only reason I am presenting the recording here.

Reveal Media

Body worn video cameras for the police? Is this the answer?

Soon, we will all be walking around with cameras strapped to our bodies in response to being under constant surveillance in public, although initially the cameras will only be turned on when police have been dispatched to an event?

Is this really the solution? No... but the question is whether or not we will have a choice.

Allegedly video doesn't lie... actually information manipulation will be rife. The tampering of evidence will be difficult to prove- for or against. And what about those black spots?

... What's coming next?

Embedded cameras?

Police to test body worn video

"As part of a new year-long pilot project beginning Wednesday, 20 officers will be equipped with small Body Worn Video (BWV) recording systems.
The cameras capture both audio and video and are small enough to be worn on cops' uniforms.
Police spokesman Supt. Ed Keller, with the information and technology branch, says they can be particularly useful in "objectively and accurately record an interaction a police officer has with someone in the public while they are investigating an incident."


"The footage will be stored on servers and a database. The cost for the cameras is just under $1,000.
They will be tested by patrol cops and beat cops going about their daily policing duties.
Of course, the pilot project comes with a detailed list of protocols for recording."

Article by Pamela Roth for Edmonton Sun, Canada

Edmonton Sun

Edmonton Sun

See also Calgary police trial here and a video here. Ottawa police also involved here.

Supreme Court rejects law enforcement prohibiting people from recording police officers

11:41 a.m. CST, November 26, 2012

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Cook County state's attorney to allow enforcement of a law prohibiting people from recording police officers on the job. 

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that found that the state's anti-eavesdropping law violates free speech rights when used against people who tape law enforcement officers.
The law set out a maximum prison term of 15 years.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to block prosecution of ACLU staff for recording police officers performing their duties in public places, one of the group's long-standing monitoring missions.

Opponents of the law say the right to record police is vital to guard against abuses.