After a Loss in Vancouver, Troubling Signals of Citizen Surveillance

Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review, Jun 17, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

People are pretty quick to cheer for the use of social media to advance human rights and democracy, as in the care of the right to drive campaign underway today in Saudi Arabia. But why the hesitation when the wrongdoing is on the other side? Alexandra Samuel, for example, calls the citizen surveillance of the riots in Vancouver "troubling" and she argues, "I don't think we want to live in a society that turns social media into a form of crowdsourced surveillance. When social media users embrace Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs as channels for curating, identifying and pursuing criminals, that is exactly what they are moving toward." Well - I disagree. It's the very same act to record a police officer beating a helpless civilian at the G20 protests and to record a thug in a Canucks shirt smashing a car window with a newspaper vending machine. And my response - to protect the right - is and ought to be the same. See more from Dvaid Eaves, George Siemens, the public shaming website, and the identify the rioters page.
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