Friday, 17 June 2011

Letting Your Inner Stasi Out

I agree with pretty much everything Alexandra Samuel has to say about crowdsourced surveillance.

A taste:
The fact that the police department itself is encouraging people to share their photos and videos privately should tell us a lot about the troubling territory social media users have wandered into. There is a reason that the state has been defined by its monopoly on the legitimate use of force: delegating law enforcement to professional police is a way of preventing vigilantism, ensuring due process and protecting civil rights.

Just as crucially, professional law enforcement protects a healthy civil society from the corrosive effects of citizen surveillance. When citizens take on the job of reporting on one another it can lead to some very dark places, very quickly. One of the most difficult revelations to emerge in the wake of German reunification was the sheer number of civilians who cooperated with the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious secret police. About 5% of East Germans were secret informants, a culture of crowdsourced surveillance that eroded social trust and perpetuated an authoritarian state.

Or even more briefly, what Jim Bobby has to say:
Virtual viglantism.

But, hey nice Vancouverites, losing is tough. So I guess getting your jollies by fingering some drunken yob celebrating a burning car is some solace.

Kinda pathetic -- not to mention dangerous -- but some solace.


Anonymous said...

If someone burned your car up for no good reason, and someone else saw them do it, wouldn't you want them to tell the police?

Beijing York said...

The campaign to snitch on the rioters is extremely disheartening for the very reasons you stated.

The fact that the Van Police Chief and media have been blaming anarchists, once again muddying the public's understanding of real politics versus drunken thuggery.

fern hill said...

The question is academic because I don't have a car. Yes, of course. But in the normal way of doing things. Going to police, offering testimony as an individual witness.

Not by joining some vigilante mental space in which emailing pix and identifying people who may or may not have had anything to do with the bad deeds is considered a Civic Duty.

I don't think citizens have any legal obligation to come forward, especially since the cops don't seem to think they themselves do.

fern hill said...

BY: Our posts crossed.

'Anarchists' to North American cops are the knee-jerk equivalent of 'foreign influences' to Middle Eastern and North African dictators.

Totally predictable bullshit.

JJ said...

I generally look askance at requests for help from the Authorities, and this situation is no different. But at the same time, I totally understand the outrage that's driving people to take part in this campaign to identify the excrement who trashed their town.

That said, I feel less than zero sympathy for any of the rioters, especially those who end up getting pinched because of their own narcissism. When people are stupid enough to post their douchebaggian exploits online for the World to see, they deserve whatever they get.

fern hill said...

I have no problem with the idiots who post images and braggadocio themselves. Yes, they deserve what they get.

It's the identification by Good Citizens of people who may or may not have done anything actually illegal that I find appallilng. I've read that names, addresses and places of employment are being posted by 'helpful' citizens. In one case, the particulars of what would be a youth offender if he is an offender. That is ILLEGAL.

And -- trying not to sound bitter, centre of the universe here -- but the 'trashing' was cleaned up by noon and a bunch of insurance claims will be filed.

While my city was turned into a bloody police state for 2 weeks. Less than half the requested compensation for businesses that suffered has been paid and trials are still ongoing for people arrested. Totally pointless inquiries into police behaviour and oversight are still going on.

For me the most telling point is this: Actual mayhem was happening in Vancouver. Damage, fist fights, rampant stupidity. Number of arrests: 150.

In Toronto, there were 50-75 'anarchist' ninjas allowed to run wild for an hour or so. No reaction from cops. Later, peaceful protesters, dog walkers, journalists, and tourists were rounded up, kettled, beaten, and detained in disgusting conditions. Etc. Number of arrests: 1100.

Go cry me a fucking river, Vancouver.

And if you're such GoodyTwoShoes as to turn in to the cops people who were just standing there, you deserve whatever you get too.

I guess maybe I shoulda written another blogpost. . .

fern hill said...

Good piece on how Toronto is not Vancouver.

JJ said...

I wasn't aware this was a competition, but when you put it that way, Toronto clearly "wins".

As for being a "GoodyTwoShoes" who'd enjoy ratting people out, please. My history of mistrust in the authorities is long & proud and most importantly, consistent.

fern hill said...

Nah, not a competition. In the tiny minds of the MSM though, the two events are like totally the same eh?

And for hevvins sake, JJ, I didn't mean you're a 'GoodyTwoShoes'!!! I'm not delusional (yet). I meant all those nice helpful people thinking they are doing a Good Thing and feeling chuffed about it. Like returning a lost wallet or something.

Peter said...

It seems to me there is a common sub-text to a whole series of seemingly disparate issues like the police, crime and punishment, protests, riots, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, childcare, etc. You start with the predictable ideological divides and end up arguing how society should cope with and protect itself against single men in their twenties.

JJ said...

fern hill - My apologies for the misunderstanding. I thought you meant the "Specific You", rather than the "Universal You". My reputation as a midlife miscreant on the line, I overreacted ;)

I understand your frustration at the comparisons between the Vancouver riot and the G20. I was frankly a little startled to see such comparisons being drawn, so completely different were the two events.

One was a large group of peaceful protesters who had every right to be where they were, many unlawfully detained, and a tiny group of troublemakers within them, who somehow escaped being detained. The other was a large group of drunked-up idiots who came downtown for the express purpose of raising shit no matter what the outcome of the Game, the herd who followed either joining in the violence, or aiding & abetting it, or giving it an audience (if there's no audience there ain't no show), and proportionately fewer detained.

But it soon became apparent to me that identifying peaceful protesters with drunken, looting, car-burning cretins, unspeakably lazy journalism that it is, actually serves a purpose. It will make the general public less accepting of protests, no matter how peaceful they are. It will turn future protests into potential "riots", making for bigger news stories with which to scare the shit out of the non-protesting public.

Although I disagree with the notion that the media is owned lock stock & barrel by the conservatives, at times like this it's a little hard to imagine why anyone would consider the media "liberal" either.

JJ said...

Peter - "You start with the predictable ideological divides and end up arguing how society should cope with and protect itself against single men in their twenties."

While it's true that most of the rioters (that I've seen in photos & video) were SMITT, there were more than a few young women getting in on the violence as well. I think it's more significant that most of the rioters were in diapers when the first Stanley Cup Riot went down. The media did us no favours by spending 2 weeks constantly poring over the possibility that there might be a repeat of the '94 riot this year: every generation wants to outdo the one that came before it.

fern hill said...

No apology necessary, JJ. I was unclear. And for anyone who knows your writings, your rep as midlife miscreant is safe as houses. ;)

And it's not just the lazy journalists and their (mostly) corporate masters who will benefit/profit. Imagine future VPD budgets for crowd control equipment. And all the other PDs in the land.

Dark days are upon us.

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