This fall, i am taking Social Activism using Mobile Technology and for one of my first assignments is “to design (pencil, wireframe or working app!) a Cause-based mobile app, promoting a cause of your choice or invention”. Pixelrights will be a tool to battle NYPD’s policies of stop and frisk. It can also be a way to stop the harassment of people taking photos, a bi-product of September 11th overreach. The laws dictating photographer rights were a subject recently on WNYC’s On The Media and here is the ACLU’s take on it: if you are lawfully on public properly, you can photograph everything in plain view.
In case you don’t know, New York City has waged a war against its black and hispanic male citizens. The nypd targets them in a systematic racial profiling tactic called stop and frisk. Read about it here in the nytimes, and how they have joined the tactic with arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana. 85% of those stopped are either black or hispanic. However, there doesn’t seem to be much anger for this outside of those communities, and I think it is because people have not had this sort of incident hit home. The moment you are stopped for doing nothing but being, or are harassed for taking pictures on the subway, your entire relationship with the police change. In An already imbalanced power situation worsens with every subsequent interaction. After happened to me, i realized i didn’t know my rights to be in a space or to take pictures. i was naive to the tactics that law enforcement uses to disarm you and put them in an even more advantageous situation.
Nathan Freitas wrote me great feedback and offered some interesting leads. http://openwatch.net/ and cop recorder are efforts that give the functionality of recording video and audio and uploading it to their database! The code is also open source. This is a great start. Again as Nathan pointed out, PixelRights could be “a simple cheatsheet type app with 1-2-3 guides, videos and a directory of legal aide phone numbers to call”. It would help before a demonstration to review these facts.