App Store vs the Vigilante App -Beneficial or Deeply Concerning?
The makers of the App ask:
“What if everyone within a quarter mile of every reported crime were immediately made aware of it? What if there were a camera on every crime? What if transparency existed, if we all knew where crime was occurring and how it was being resolved? Would crime as we know it still exist?
Last week the Vigilante App was released to New York, its design is simple: Alert nearby users of crimes that are in progress as they are reported to 911.
It was pulled from the App Store because Apple was concerned about the app.
The idea of the app is that mass surveillance makes the world a better, fairer place through transparency.
It’s a great idea but does it make the the world any better let alone any safer? Apple was right to remove the app because the app itself while it is intended for the good of the world carries numerous risks to not only law enforcement but to suspects, victims and innocent bystanders by those seeking some form of vigilante justice, those that mean to harm law enforcement, and those that just want to watch the world burn.
The developers of the app have said that “the closed system excludes the community, while the open system informs and empowers citizens.”
It also empowers criminals and those with ill intent.
A few months back I was listening to police chatter in Denver, during a crime that was in progress, one of the suspects had dropped a cell phone. When the officers who were chasing the suspects found the phone they immediately looked at it and realized that the suspects had a police scanner app on it.
The suspects were alerted to the officers moves through the app and it forced the officers to go to a secure channel so that they could continue the pursuit.
Anyone of those suspects could have if they were heavily armed, in turn because of the scanner app, ambushed and harmed officers. Thankfully, that did not happen but because the suspects knew where the police were looking and searching, they got away.
The questions about transparency the app’s developers ask are great questions. However, a better set of questions are, is society ready for all of the transparency and can they be responsible with it?
Another big concern with the app is the fear that some users will head to active crimes and start pod-casting live to social media as the crime unfolds. That carries with it, quite a few risks as well.
Even if people just show up to record an active crime and mean no harm, it can still cause harm. What’s more is that, untrained individuals recording crimes as they happen might end up hurt. Either way, it really does not create any more or less proof of police bias because it’s a moment in time, not an entire career.
Not to mention that it could potentially damage the defense and/or prosecution of a case. Jury pools could become contaminated and the like.
We have criminals that are already using police scanner apps to evade justice.
Two officers were just murdered in Iowa, killed ambush style, what happens when someone who wants to kill cops gets his hands on the app?
What happens when someone decides he wants to do the world some good and kills a suspected rapist or pedophile, robber, gang member or any suspected criminal for that matter?
The idea of transparency is truly great, with that comes a great responsibility of both the developers and end users.
The questions are, are we ready for this much transparency, can we be trusted with it and can we be responsible with it?
Cristal M Clark