Sousveillance as citizen “undersight” raises tough questions

Worth reading: h+ Magazine is featuring a piece by well-known wearable computing pioneer Steve Mann on the concept of sousveillance. It begins:

When Canadian police tasered Robert Dziekanski –- a man who had arrived in Vancouver International airport in October 2007 from Poland – it was not the surveillance cameras that helped bring the incident to light. It was witness Paul Pritchard who captured the killing on his camera phone. Dziekanski was tasered at least twice and then beaten by police.

This is but one example of citizens capturing their ordinary day-to-day life activities and uncovering crimes that have previously escaped capture by surveillance that looks only “from above.”


Sousveillance is a form of “reflectionism,” a term that describes the use of technology to mirror and confront bureaucratic organizations.

Sounds good. Now we need to look at the hard questions: where does one person’s ‘right to sense’ interfere with another’s right to privacy, where do we draw that line, and how will it be enforced? Tough questions, but we need to take them on now. If you find examples of work on this, please let us know here at —Chris Peterson

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