December 13, 2018

How Always-On Police Cameras Would Change the World

““If the goal of body cameras is to capture when force is used, then activation upon when a gun is drawn or fired, a siren is turned on, or perhaps even when the police car door opens might make sense,” Hartzog said. As he explains, having cameras set to “off” by default, but triggered in specific scenarios, can guard against “purpose drift,” where technology is introduced for one purpose then used for another. The triggers, ideally, would maintain consistency.

Having cameras always on, always recording, may be a surveillance nightmare, but leaving it completely up to officer discretion, even with failsafes, risks manipulation or misconduct. In certain spaces of social life, like airports, we’re willing to accept a forced lack of anonymity. But when we let police set the boundaries of permanent suspicion, we risk a world where going out in public is a transaction: We have to exchange anonymity for the right to be assumed innocent.”

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