Saturday, August 25, 2012

I got my "i" on you

We live in an age where we are encouraged to spy on our neighbors, co-workers and friends. It's all about conformity and ratting out anyone who dares to do something other than the ordinary.

Well, maybe not exactly, as we don't like those damn whistleblowers like Wikileaks that dare to expose our government's deep, dark, dirty secrets. The last thing we seem to want is to know just what our government does in our name. We certainly don't want someone like Bradley Manning letting the world know that the United States violated just about every international convention regarding torture and the treatment of alleged enemy combatants.

Now the paranoia patrol has come to Houston. Just take a gander at the new iWatch Harris County mobile phone app. Now the shiny gadget brigade has the ability to watch crime and rat out those suspicious looking folk they see hanging about.

Just think, it's even easier to spy on your neighbors and that hippy do-gooder living down the street. What better way to get around that pesky little Fourth Amendment than having normal everyday citizens poking their noses into everyone else's business? After all, the Fourth Amendment just protects us against overreaching by the state.

In Texas, however, we do at least have the additional protection of Article 38.23 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that allows a jury to exclude any evidence that was obtained illegally - whether by the police or a private citizen. That is, if you can convince a jury to ignore the bad stuff your client did and focus in on the actions of the other party.

I wonder if the app will allow someone to report incidents of police brutality. What about illegal searches and pretextual stops? Testilying on the stand? Probably not.

1 comment:

Scott C. Pope said...

Most people who haven't really read 1984 will tell you that government control was the main point of the book, but to me the scariest people were the citizen informers. This is a depressing development.