1.27.2012

Pre-Crime Enforcement Becomes Reality

In true 1984-esqe visual appeal and taking a nod from the Minority Report, police cameras in New Jersey will bathe civilians on the street in red light anytime police believe they are about to commit a crime. Pre-crime enforcement, guilty until proven innocent. You will be targeted with this high-powered red-spotlight, marking you on the street as a criminal, even if you have not done anything wrong.

I have been on the fence about some advances in technology in relation to police surveillance. How it is being used, and what measures are being put in place to prevent abuses. Cameras for instance, are a fact of life in the modern world. So long as we as civilians can use cameras, I see no reason why law-enforcement should not be allowed to do the same. But only to a point. Storing vast databases for example, retaining certain information, could be seen as a violation of the public trust and the spirit of the Constitution.

But leaving that debate aside for now, this application of the "Red-Light" camera system seems to be an outright authoritarian abuse of technology. Do we get to sue the police for defamation? Or any other harm that might befall us being marked in such a way? What protections do we have to ensure that the innocent will not be marked with this red light? Oh, see, I forgot already. Everyone they intend to mark is in fact innocent. They intend to use this tool to mark someone about to commit a crime. So what legal definition do we have under the Constitution which sets the criteria for accusing a citizen of committing a crime before they have done anything wrong at all? Maybe next they will come up with a system which projects LED yellow triangles or stars of David on our backs as we walk down the streets.



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