There has been a lot written lately about the disturbing trend towards becoming a surveillance society. And the equally disturbing trend for governments to try to interfere with various kinds of communications to squash activity. Mathew Ingram has a good article about that on gigaom.
There is a great hue and cry about this when it occurs in countries that we feel suppress their people – but we are also seeing the trend in North America and Britain – such as the recent British riots and San Fransico’s Bart transit system shutdown of cell service.
And yet at the same time, authorities get upset at and try to stop people from photographing them doing their jobs – sometimes to the extent of trying to charge them with crimes such as wiretapping.
Along with that is the photographer as terrorist / criminal attitude that is seen far too often. That has been mentioned on Slaw before here and here. The latest example of that is a post on Techdirt that says police in Long Beach California have a policy that they can detain someone taking photos with “no apparent esthetic value”.
There is of course always some reason given for doing these things – but we can’t just let it be justified by some claim that it is necessary to stop violence or catch criminals. We have to consider many factors, including practical matters such as whether the actions are even effective to accomplish the stated goal, and how disruptive they are to others. We also need to think about issues like security vs privacy, and liberty vs control.
We need to think about these issues on matters such as the proposed lawful access laws.