The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has launched a new website and companion mobile app that allows people who are witnesses to large emergencies can submit photo or video evidence they might have recorded. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea — but like all mass information collection, the idea has a dark side.
The LASD’s Large Emergency Event Digital Information Repository, or Leedir, hopes to help the department sort through the madness that ensues when there’s a large-scale disaster like a riot or a bombing. The website, as well as the iOS and Android apps, live in inactive stasis until authorities flip the switch after an emergency. Once the system is turned on, the website and apps will start accepting uploads.
According to its website, Leedir was at least partially inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings last year. After the blasts, the public submitted thousands of photos and videos from the event that the Boston Police just weren’t equipped to receive. To prevent another such data bottleneck, the LASD teamed up with CitizenGlobal, an eyewitness information parsing platform, and Amazon Web Services, to make sure that the next time there’s an emergency, the authorities can respond adequately.
Of course, there’s a sinister side to the technology. It’s currently being used to hunt down “violent criminals” who participated in the “Deltopia” riots in Santa Barbara last month, an unfortunate event that the police reportedly made worse. In situations such as these, or at protests and public demonstrations, it’s easy to see how the evidence could be used — witch hunt-style — to help police and prosecutors make the case against people they want to be punished. And I’m willing to bet there won’t be many calls for evidence that could be used to bust police brutality. [Leedir via PetaPixel via Engadget via Ars]