I’ve been how ineffective body cameras on police will be but after seeing some of the things posted by my friend Kurtis Hannah I am now convinced that they will also bring a new wave of surveillance and privacy violations.
We already live in a world where much of our activity is recorded by cameras. Department stores, gas stations, hospitals, and pretty much everywhere else employ security cameras. While I don’t like all being recorded at these places I also acknowledge that they won’t send men with guns after me unless I’ve done something legitimately bad in most cases (because that’s usually the only time the footage is reviewed). Police footage, especially in this day and age where the National Security Agency (NSA) already has a massive surveillance apparatus, could be employed differently. It’s not unimaginable that police departments would employ people to review all footage from body cameras to find potential criminal offenses that the officer missed. Such a large amount of footage could also enable police to track individuals by using facial recognition software against body camera footage. That wouldn’t be unprecedented since many departments already do something similar with automatic license plate scanners.
This puts us in a really bad spot. On the one hand we cannot trust the police to go about their activities unsupervised. Having their actions recorded at all times while they’re on duty and streaming that footage live for anybody to access at any point is the only way any semblance of accountability can exist. But doing that will also violate the privacy of anybody within camera shot of an officer.
What’s the solution? In my opinion the only viable solution is to toss out the entire institution of modern policing and replace it with something better. That something better will have to be decentralized by nature and not in any way associated with the state, which seems impossible to implement today due to the controlling nature of today’s state. But until that happens there will be no accountability and the only “solutions” offered to us will be ones that better enable the police to keep us under their boots.