Australian media justify Steve Smith

Transparency and privacy

Who is watching whom? In the 1990s, Canadian computer scientist Steve Mann began experimenting with digital cameras that he wore on his body. At that time, video surveillance was spreading in public spaces, and Mann was interested in the threat to privacy. With his very own surveillance practice, he tried to turn the direction of view. For this purpose, he strapped a digital camera to his head, for example, which continuously filmed his field of vision and saved the recordings. He baptized this practice sousveillance, a word creation from the French words for "under" (sous) and "monitoring" (surveillance).[1]

The "surveillance from below", which Mann demonstrated in an aesthetic-artistic context, is now establishing itself as a mass practice, for example in the worldwide social protests since 2008. Whether in Egypt, Israel, Spain or the USA, police officers always see themselves in dicey places Situations surrounded by a crowd of demonstrators filming the operation on their mobile phones. But it is not only growing in the context of such political mobilizations sousveillance. Civil rights groups in major British and American cities are beginning to take advantage of all the possibilities that smartphones and the Internet offer to document police checks in public spaces.

Of course, open police operations in public spaces have always been visible - for those directly present. But now the amalgamation and mass spread of storage and communication technology is leading to a "second visibility of police work", emphasizes the Australian criminologist Andrew John Goldsmith, namely as media representation. Because mass media societies have now become societies in which the masses produce media content, a new quality of transparency is emerging. Almost every demonstrator and every passer-by has an internet-enabled camera in their pocket in the form of their mobile phones. As a result, the police authorities tend to lose control of their external image, argues Goldsmith. [2] The connection between the Internet and portable electronic devices can, under certain circumstances, trigger a flood of data and images that put police authorities under pressure. They are exposed to a new transparency that they do not necessarily want. Which does ______________ mean sousveillance for the relationship between the police and the population?

Steve Mann openly displayed his surveillance to raise awareness of the technical systems that monitor and record our behavior. He strove for a kind of "equality of arms" between the observer and the observed. The practices of sousveillancewhich we are talking about here are by no means aimed at surveillance criticism. On the contrary, sousveillance accelerated monitoring and generalizing the use of the relevant media in public space. [3] It aims at nothing less than permanent and comprehensive control of the state executive police force. Below are anecdotal descriptions of some of these monitoring practices. What they have in common is that they use the Internet and portable electronic devices to document police officers' actions and, under certain circumstances, to publish them. They differ according to the motives of their operator and their time horizon: While in some cases the digital recordings are only used for self-protection, for example to secure evidence for possible legal disputes, in other cases they are intended to delegitimize police action as a whole. Some arise spontaneously in the course of an "outrage cascade" (Goldsmith), others aim to achieve the most comprehensive and representative documentation possible through (partial) automation and networking.

Political pressure from floods of images

Under the slogan "Surround the Congress!" Spanish government opponents initiated a human chain around the parliament in Madrid in September 2011 to protest against further social cuts. As a result, there were violent clashes between the police and demonstrators, especially on the night of September 26th. Numerous people were injured on both sides; there was high damage to property. Video recordings of the confrontations began to circulate practically at the same time. While the attention of the reporting television stations concentrated on the dissolution of the "blockade" of parliament, amateur videos delivered scenes "from the edge of the action", with a high symbolic content and effective visual language.

For example, a frequently reproduced film shows how special forces use rubber bullets inside a train station. Other shots show an innkeeper in downtown Madrid who offers fleeing demonstrators protection in his bar and stands in the way of the police officers who want to pursue them with raised hands. These films spread via social networks and blogs and were partly adopted by TV stations and online editorial offices of established media. Internet users shared these presentations prepared by the leading media again. Six months later, an Internet search with the Spanish words for "police", "September 25" and "Madrid" still yields 1.2 million films, a large part of which are amateur recordings - shaky images with high-pitched, overdriven sound tracks that are always Focus on the use of violence by the police: a veritable flood of images of police violence.

In the days that followed, these recordings put pressure not only on the government, but also on the police. Less than a week later, Ignacio Cosidó, Director General of the Spanish Police, announced in a speech that the government would soon enact a law that "the recording, playback and processing of images, sounds and data from members of the security forces and state officials of their duties "will forbid. This announcement caused outrage again, and Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Diaz then stressed that the ban should apply "above all" to anti-terrorism operations. So far, however, the government has not taken any steps to implement this idea. According to Spanish civil rights experts, a general ban on recording police operations would in any case not be compatible with the country's constitution. After all, the announcement by Cosidós and Diaz shows how much the floods of images from the Internet are now impressing politicians.