Surveillance Growth Impacting Society: Seattle Case Examined

Published Jun 17, 2010 00:00 AM
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Surveillance video used to be fairly controlled and limited but that's changing rapidly. Interestingly, it's not fault of the businesses and goverrments that usually are cited/blamed but the rise of personal video cameras. This will have significant impact on society.

A great example of this is a June 2010 incident with the Seattle Police (read background). A video captured, now on YouTube and embedded below, shows the incident. Relative to traditional surveillance, notice the high quality of the video, clear audio, close up-shots and the presence of at least 5 people filming the incident. Also, this single copy of the video has been watched 1 million times in less than a week since it happened:

Maybe there is 1 or 2 traditional surveillance cameras in that area. Its the presence of regular people with increasingly standard HD video cameras on phones that makes this possible.

The social debate is intense with some saying this proves police brutality and racism while others believing that this demonstrates lack of respect for the law and a criminal offense by the civilians (resisting arrest, attacking an officer).

Regardless of one's stand on this particular case, such videos bring clarity and emotional impact that a written report ('he said, she said') could never have. Furthermore, it empowers those with less access to traditional media to share concerns and problems.

While personal video surveillance has been used for many years (the Rodney King incident is almost 20 years old), the proliferation of low cost cameraphones and the Internet for video distribution is rapidly accelerating the impact of such videos.