Jun 132012

My article on sousveillance of police in Vancouver is up on Vancouver.Openfile.ca. I hope I can go a little further into this area in the future.

Interestingly, this piece has also come to the attention of a blog called Genuine Witty.

The blog posted a picture of me, captioned that I am “Shilin’ it for the DTES povertarians…” The author says that “Peter wrote a great informational piece about CopWatch- that said, it is a bit fluffy, and misses out on some of the meat of the story.”

As far as I can tell, this blog is mainly personal opinions about some kind of argument between people formerly involved with Occupy Vancouver, and the article is an attempt to subsume my article into that discourse.

Well, at least somebody is reading.

Jan 312012

My latest is a short piece on the state of surveillance in Vancouver. This wasn’t my idea, but I’ve been interested in privacy and surveillance issues for a while, and I took the gig.

I had assumed there would be clear laws about where you can put surveillance cameras, whether as private citizens or as business, but the laws regarding this are pretty vague. There are stronger laws about keeping records of other people’s personal information (which includes their likeness.) There’s also a lot of obfuscation about the city government and police’s use of surveillance.

Surveillance is becoming a big issue. When you get right down to it, Google and Facebook and Twitter aren’t offering all these services for free out of generosity. They are businesses, and a large part of their business is selling information about the people who use their services to other businesses. It may be anonymized or otherwise restricted for people’s privacy, but that is still what they do.

Google is rapidly becoming something like the Minds in Iain M. Bank’ s Culture books: nearly all-knowing artificial intelligences so powerful, and so essential, that the humans can only cross their fingers and hope that they aren’t doing anything bad, or if they are, it’s for the humans’ own good.