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Surveillance culture, an article in The Atlantic
Old 09-02-2019   #1
Takkun
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Surveillance culture, an article in The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/technolo...rc-app/597088/

The article is not directly related to photography, but touches on the rise of online shaming and surveillance culture, and the use of online data. It reminded me of another recent article I’ve read about a street photographer who was being harassed by a neighborhoodfacebook group accusing him of pedophilia for the crime of being in a public place with a camera where families with children happened to be.

(That article is here, though certainly not the first such case)

It got me to thinking about how my experiences photographing in public have changed. Pre-Facebook, people might have mugged for the camera, or asked what publication I was shooting for out of eager curiosity; more recently, people are far more guarded or outright confrontational—and in a strange act of reciprocity, have pulled out phones and photographed me photographing in public.

last week I was photographing a building downtown, and a security guard in the area approached me to tell me that first, it’s illegal to photograph officers of the peace (I don’t think he knew the definition of that) while on duty, and second, his likeness is copyright, so I can’t post this online, and I needed to delete all photos with him in it.

Since I did shoot for new publications before, I’m used to people averse to being photographed, but the particular wariness is being posted online is new to me. I suppose the fear of public exposure goes both ways.

Thoughts? Experiences?
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Old 09-02-2019   #2
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Sounds like the old Soviet Union: neighbors ratting on neighbors. When I drive into San Francisco, it isn't once but maybe 4 times I'm inconvenienced by double parking trucks. It is the price you pay to be in a city.
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Old 09-02-2019   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Takkun View Post
last week I was photographing a building downtown, and a security guard in the area approached me to tell me that first, it’s illegal to photograph officers of the peace (I don’t think he knew the definition of that) while on duty, and second, his likeness is copyright, so I can’t post this online, and I needed to delete all photos with him in it.
What an imagination. Obviously he was legally in the wrong. I hope you didn't let him bully you into deleting them.

As for harassing people, the U.S. has always had one witch hunt or another going on. Its unfortunately part of the culture and not much new about it except maybe the forum in which it is conducted.
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Old 09-02-2019   #4
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Not sure where I read this, but many years ago, a man could walk into a rehearsal at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and take pictures. This would never happen now, which is a shame, because the photographic potential would be huge. But we deal with things like model releases, commercial permission, consent, and the whole ball of wax.


I haven't encountered much of the behaviours you mentioned above, thank goodness, but I usually shoot in touristy areas where a lot of people have cameras or are taking pictures with cellphones. I think people just assume I'm a tourist. I steer away from shooting near kids, definitely don't shoot near schools, and generally make myself pleasant and nondescript.
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Old 09-02-2019   #5
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Sounds like the old Soviet Union: neighbors ratting on neighbors. When I drive into San Francisco, it isn't once but maybe 4 times I'm inconvenienced by double parking trucks. It is the price you pay to be in a city.
Sounds like gibberish.

In the Soviet Time, tourists were passing many Soviet Cities with curtains on the bus windows. Not only photos were not allowed, but even look outside.
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Old 09-02-2019   #6
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Faux freedom for all! Bentham's panopticon in full flower. Forget cctv; we do it to ourselves now. But we get 40MP cameras in cell phones now; so, hey, it's a compromise.
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Old 09-02-2019   #7
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"Apps that track bike-lane offenders help cyclists feel a sense of agency."

Irrelevant Rant 1. Everytime I hear or read words like ".....feel a sense of agency" I know the author of those words is a bit of a wanker trying to sound relevant and really does not have much of a point. I am betting that 90% of people over the age of 30 feel the same even university educated ones like myself. I feel this way simply because in today's world ideas are so often promoted and supported by shoddy and meaningless words that are supposed to sound erudite but actually mean nothing. This is not so much a rant against the article which seems to be questioning the trend to greater surveillance because it "gives agency" because with that opposition, I agree. Can you imagine a world in which censorious tossers have the right to dirty your name just because they can report you on an app - with no doubt no consequences for themselves if they are motivated by malice?

Slightly less irrelevant rant. I watched a documentary on Australian ABC last night about the the protests in Hong Kong where protesters are coming onto the streets to confront police, who frankly have too often lost it and reverted to unnecessary violence against the protesters (who seem to have the backing of many Hong Kong citizens who can see their freedoms heading down the communist plug hole).

The protesters now often start their protests by tearing down the "lamp posts" spread liberally throughout the city that in HK now contain surveillance cameras. Good on them - HK is one of the most peaceful and law abiding cities on planet earth and always has been not because of official policing but because of their culture. Which begs the question why does the communist government need to surveil the streets if it si so law abiding? I think we know the answer. While we are pretty relaxed about video surveillance in Oz this gave me reason to start rethinking whether they really are such a good idea here either, when they can be used to repress a population which just seeks freedom to go about its lawful business. This will not end well for HK unless the communist government backs down. And eventually it may not end well for the rest of us either.

Do we really as the article asks want neighbors or strangers to be able to surveil us and report us on some online app? Simply because we are doing something that seems questionable to them. Well if you think its a great idea then bear in mind that its exactly the kind of think also being done in mainland China by the government with their social credit system. If you do not understand what this is look it up. We are already in a world where technology companies like FaceBook, Twitter and the like are doing the same -in order to censor "hate speech" (which means whatever it is they want to censor today and might be something entirely different tomorrow). If you do not think this is dystopian then I do not know what is.

Rant mode off.
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Old 09-02-2019   #8
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Slightly less irrelevant rant. I watched a documentary on Australian ABC last night about the the protests in Hong Kong where protesters are coming onto the streets to confront police, who frankly have too often lost it and reverted to unnecessary violence against the protesters (who seem to have the backing of many Hong Kong citizens who can see their freedoms heading down the communist plug hole).

The protesters now often start their protests by tearing down the "lamp posts" spread liberally throughout the city that in HK now contain surveillance cameras. Good on them - HK is one of the most peaceful and law abiding cities on planet earth and always has been not because of official policing but because of their culture. Which begs the question why does the communist government need to surveil the streets if it si so law abiding? I think we know the answer. While we are pretty relaxed about video surveillance in Oz this gave me reason to start rethinking whether they really are such a good idea here either, when they can be used to repress a population which just seeks freedom to go about its lawful business. This will not end well for HK unless the communist government backs down. And eventually it may not end well for the rest of us either.

Do we really as the article asks want neighbors or strangers to be able to surveil us and report us on some online app? Simply because we are doing something that seems questionable to them. Well if you think its a great idea then bear in mind that its exactly the kind of think also being done in mainland China by the government with their social credit system. If you do not understand what this is look it up. We are already in a world where technology companies like FaceBook, Twitter and the like are doing the same -in order to censor "hate speech" (which means whatever it is they want to censor today and might be something entirely different tomorrow). If you do not think this is dystopian then I do not know what is.

Rant mode off.

As a relevant reply to the slightly irrelevant tangent. Hong Kong is a place close to my heart, as I have close friends and extended family living there. There is a distinct media spin war occurring where a lot of Western media outlets are not showing the damage and violence perpetrated by a small but very active group of rioters.

Example: the ABC recently showed a segment which they described as 'police beating and pepper spraying passengers' on a train. While the police response was all out of proportion, what they didn't show was that immediately before, rioters were arguing with and abusing normal passengers, and they also ran rampant through the train station, smashing windows, destroying ticket machines, shooting fire extinguishers, and assaulting at least one man who was just trying to get through. At first I thought the people on the train were just passengers, but a few were seen earlier changing from protest gear into street gear, and ditching their helmets and masks.

The rioters also destroyed multiple security cameras in the train station, which makes a lot of sense if you want to cut off information to the authorities. It's not just the surveillance lampposts, they also cut power lines, elevators, escalators, disrupt train lines, and numerous other acts of urban terrorism. It's classic urban guerilla warfare.

There are many, many such instances where Western media is downplaying or ignoring the actions of rioters, or framing them as 'pro democracy demonstrators' while showing them catapulting bricks into police family barracks windows. Original videos of these instances are often shared on HK social media like Facebook and via messaging apps, but most of them aren't shown by the media because they clash with the narrative of 'peaceful pro democracy protesters'.

Look, I'm no fan of the totalitarian nature of the Chinese government, but I'm no fan of the methods and actions of the rioters. They are harming Hong Kong economically on a lot of levels, with tourism rates dropping like a stone, local businesses staying shut or closing early because they don't want to be destroyed in the riots, and stopping ordinary citizens from traveling home either inland or overseas. They even beat up ordinary citizens who speak against them, smash their car windscreens, apprehend and tie them up with zip ties, and verbally harass random strangers.

The surveillance state is another awful matter entirely.
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Old 09-02-2019   #9
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This is an interesting topic. We want to live in an ideal world and yet we exist in reality. How many times have we read something in the papers or online about an assault in the streets and immediately think "well I hope they got the perp on camera"? Also do we want to turn urban areas into an actual police state vs merely a virtual one? Surveillance can be a substitute for in your face police presence if facial recognition is reliable. Record the incident and deal with it later. Or have cops in every corner all day and night. My family lived for years in a very very rough area so my perspective may be different than yours.
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Old 09-02-2019   #10
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As a relevant reply to the slightly irrelevant tangent. Hong Kong is a place close to my heart, as I have close friends and extended family living there. There is a distinct media spin war occurring where a lot of Western media outlets are not showing the damage and violence perpetrated by a small but very active group of rioters.

Example: the ABC recently showed a segment which they described as 'police beating and pepper spraying passengers' on a train. While the police response was all out of proportion, what they didn't show was that immediately before, rioters were arguing with and abusing normal passengers, and they also ran rampant through the train station, smashing windows, destroying ticket machines, shooting fire extinguishers, and assaulting at least one man who was just trying to get through. At first I thought the people on the train were just passengers, but a few were seen earlier changing from protest gear into street gear, and ditching their helmets and masks.

The rioters also destroyed multiple security cameras in the train station, which makes a lot of sense if you want to cut off information to the authorities. It's not just the surveillance lampposts, they also cut power lines, elevators, escalators, disrupt train lines, and numerous other acts of urban terrorism. It's classic urban guerilla warfare.

There are many, many such instances where Western media is downplaying or ignoring the actions of rioters, or framing them as 'pro democracy demonstrators' while showing them catapulting bricks into police family barracks windows. Original videos of these instances are often shared on HK social media like Facebook and via messaging apps, but most of them aren't shown by the media because they clash with the narrative of 'peaceful pro democracy protesters'.

Look, I'm no fan of the totalitarian nature of the Chinese government, but I'm no fan of the methods and actions of the rioters. They are harming Hong Kong economically on a lot of levels, with tourism rates dropping like a stone, local businesses staying shut or closing early because they don't want to be destroyed in the riots, and stopping ordinary citizens from traveling home either inland or overseas. They even beat up ordinary citizens who speak against them, smash their car windscreens, apprehend and tie them up with zip ties, and verbally harass random strangers.

The surveillance state is another awful matter entirely.

The question is who do the rioters represent? I'm guessing themselves: they could be democracy supporters or they could be acting for the government to stir up trouble against the dem side. Or they are taking advantage of the situation for their own pleasure of violence. Maybe all three? As you pointed out, media is a manipulation in many respects so it always requires an effort to suss out what is really going on. If possible...
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Old 09-02-2019   #11
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This is an interesting topic. We want to live in an ideal world and yet we exist in reality. How many times have we read something in the papers or online about an assault in the streets and immediately think "well I hope they got the perp on camera"? Also do we want to turn urban areas into an actual police state vs merely a virtual one? Surveillance can be a substitute for in your face police presence if facial recognition is reliable. Record the incident and deal with it later. Or have cops in every corner all day and night. My family lived for years in a very very rough area so my perspective may be different than yours.

The problem lies in how the technology is used. As @peterm1 said, private corporations like Facebook and Twitter are now screening for 'hate speech', but who determines what is hate speech, and where is the line before it becomes adverse censorship? Security cameras are all very well and good when they are used to identify wrongdoing, but what happens when the operators start defining 'wrongdoing' as anything that goes against their political views?
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Old 09-02-2019   #12
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The problem lies in how the technology is used. As @peterm1 said, private corporations like Facebook and Twitter are now screening for 'hate speech', but who determines what is hate speech, and where is the line before it becomes adverse censorship? Security cameras are all very well and good when they are used to identify wrongdoing, but what happens when the operators start defining 'wrongdoing' as anything that goes against their political views?
For example? As an American we have already given away much of our freedom so actually getting something in return is a good thing. Do you know how much the police can get away with in my country? Imagine if phones didn't have cameras. Who would know?
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Old 09-02-2019   #13
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For example? As an American we have already given away much of our freedom so actually getting something in return is a good thing. Do you know how much the police can get away with in my country? Imagine if phones didn't have cameras. Who would know?
In China there is a 'social credit system' which is intended to bring the population into line. What is possibly the most sophisticated facial recognition system in the world is connected with their population database. Someone jaywalking can be automatically identified and the appropriate fine sent to their address. The country-wide surveillance system is so good that it can find a person in public within minutes, as long as they are in visual distance of a connected camera.

It goes way further than this. The social credit system places increasing levels of restrictions on people who are deemed to have low social credit, and social credit can be affected by anything from nonpayment of debts to criminal activity, or politically aberrant behaviour.

For example, there is a MMA practitioner in China named Xu Xiao Dong. He made a name for himself by challenging who he calls 'fake masters', kung fu masters who claim to have fighting proficiency but don't actually have the skills. Recently, Xu made insulting comments about a respected Tai Chi master, and his social credit dropped like a bag of rocks off a cliff. He is currently not allowed to buy property, travel by airplane, travel in first class compartments on trains, and a range of other restrictions.

In Australia, Chinese living here have appeared on TV to speak out against the Chinese government. I am told that even without knowing their names, Chinese facial recognition has identified them, and their families in China have been visited by government officials.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/soci...e-identify-any

Some other restaurants have even offered discounts to customers based on a machine that ranks their looks according to an algorithm. Customers with “beautiful” characteristics – such as symmetrical features – get better scores than those with noses that are “too big” or “too small” and those that get better scores will get cheaper meals.

Some public lavatories in Beijing also use facial recognition so that the automatic dispensing machines will deny toilet paper to people who ask for it more than once within a given period.
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Old 09-02-2019   #14
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Originally Posted by Archiver View Post
In China there is a 'social credit system' which is intended to bring the population into line. What is possibly the most sophisticated facial recognition system in the world is connected with their population database. Someone jaywalking can be automatically identified and the appropriate fine sent to their address. The country-wide surveillance system is so good that it can find a person in public within minutes, as long as they are in visual distance of a connected camera.

[/i]
Facial recognition technology will be adapted willingly by the public. I am already unlocking my iPhone with it and many countries will have facial recognition as well as already existing biometrics for travellers. The last time I went to China I seriously did not see anyone using cash; everything is cashless even riding the trains. This type of technology grows organically because it is convenient though surely the marketeers would like to know what you have been buying via those payment apps. Foreseeable I'll be able to hook my Applepay account on my phone to a camera at the apple store to pay for my stuff and then it'll expand organically until none of us will need to carry any sort of ID, money, credit cards, passports. I don't think this is stoppable. Based on what people say over social media I think facial recognition will catch on despite the nefarious flip side.
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Old 09-03-2019   #15
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Originally Posted by Archiver View Post
In China there is a 'social credit system' which is intended to bring the population into line. What is possibly the most sophisticated facial recognition system in the world is connected with their population database. Someone jaywalking can be automatically identified and the appropriate fine sent to their address. The country-wide surveillance system is so good that it can find a person in public within minutes, as long as they are in visual distance of a connected camera.

It goes way further than this. The social credit system places increasing levels of restrictions on people who are deemed to have low social credit, and social credit can be affected by anything from nonpayment of debts to criminal activity, or politically aberrant behaviour.

For example, there is a MMA practitioner in China named Xu Xiao Dong. He made a name for himself by challenging who he calls 'fake masters', kung fu masters who claim to have fighting proficiency but don't actually have the skills. Recently, Xu made insulting comments about a respected Tai Chi master, and his social credit dropped like a bag of rocks off a cliff. He is currently not allowed to buy property, travel by airplane, travel in first class compartments on trains, and a range of other restrictions.

In Australia, Chinese living here have appeared on TV to speak out against the Chinese government. I am told that even without knowing their names, Chinese facial recognition has identified them, and their families in China have been visited by government officials.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/soci...e-identify-any

Some other restaurants have even offered discounts to customers based on a machine that ranks their looks according to an algorithm. Customers with “beautiful” characteristics – such as symmetrical features – get better scores than those with noses that are “too big” or “too small” and those that get better scores will get cheaper meals.

Some public lavatories in Beijing also use facial recognition so that the automatic dispensing machines will deny toilet paper to people who ask for it more than once within a given period.
But if you read the article on the J Walking, you'll find this:
However, of the 300 people filmed during the pilot scheme, just four were subsequently identified and punished, it said, without explaining the discrepancy in the numbers.
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Old 09-03-2019   #16
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Saw this last week in Nanjing, China: a huge screen by the road, connected to a surveillance camera armed with facial recognition, publicly displaying personal information (feature, name, phone number, national ID number - all partially hidden though) of jaywalkers it captured. Yet people still jaywalk around it. They just don't care - there isn't any privacy to begin with. I believe they don't care much about their "social credit" either...they know that the later won't easily be invoked unless you pose a serious threat to the government's rule.
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Old 09-03-2019   #17
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The question is who do the rioters represent? I'm guessing themselves: they could be democracy supporters or they could be acting for the government to stir up trouble against the dem side. Or they are taking advantage of the situation for their own pleasure of violence. Maybe all three? As you pointed out, media is a manipulation in many respects so it always requires an effort to suss out what is really going on. If possible...
The fourth, mainland China aspect: they were hired by foreign powers (the most popular candidate being the CIA) to "spread chaos and disrupt social order". So basically everyone's got their own version of story when trying to politicize the event. Hmm.

I just feel sorry for Hong Kong people.
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Old 09-03-2019   #18
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That guard is dumber than a box of rocks. Under the law, if you are in a public space you have no expectation of privacy. Copyright would only come in if you tried to use his likeness to sell something-if it's for a work of art)book?) it's fair use.

I've never heard of any law that forbids the photographing of "peace officers". He's a rent-a-cop and overly impressed with himself. I worked as a security guard in 79-80 and morons like him are one of the reasons I quit.
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Old 09-03-2019   #19
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[url]last week I was photographing a building downtown, and a security guard in the area approached me to tell me that first, it’s illegal to photograph officers of the peace (I don’t think he knew the definition of that) while on duty, and second, his likeness is copyright, so I can’t post this online, and I needed to delete all photos with him in it.?
Haha, today, in Santiago, I had a guy tell me if I don’t stop photographing he’s going to pull out a knife and stab me over and over. I didn’t even photograph him. The creepy thing is that he came up behind me and said this. When I turned around he was making the stabbing motions. I could tell he was just crazy...I’m not sure why... maybe it was the leather pants, leather cowboy hat, and toy gun in a leather holster?
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