Last year at the IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium, we had the world’s self-proclaimed "first cyborg" give a keynote address. During that lecture, Steve Mann explained his concept of sousveillance.
Basically, what it boils down to is turning the idea that we are always under surveillance by those in higher powers into the notion that everyone can surveil those in higher powers by continuously watching them for a change. And if that means everyone is always wearing body-worn cameras, well then so be it.
I know, from speaking with Steve, that he has had numerous altercations with those who felt that his sousveillance of them was some type of threat to their authority. You can easily find several examples of his run-ins with mall cops and the like online.
It’s Steve’s theory (and real-life experience) that comes to mind when I read the stories this week about the RCMP moving forward with the idea that their officers are going to wear body-worn cameras and record certain interactions. Is this a good thing?
I can definitely see the pros and cons, but what really gets me is that we are actually moving toward the ultimate end game of surveillance versus sousveillance. Because you can also bet that everyone is going to use their iPhones in this dynamic, too. I wonder what the instructions to RCMP officers are for when a police officer learns the person they are interacting with is, at the same time, recording the whole incident as well.
I guess having two recordings of the same event can’t hurt, but there's one thing I do know: I’d love to see the PIA on this file!
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