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Monitor the authorities with OpenWatch

Posted by on 21/06/2011

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With sites like Wikilieaks exposing the dirty deeds of those we entrust to run our countries, OpenWatch is a new citizen-driven mobile phone program that allows the average man to monitor those in authoritative positions.

How many times have you heard of instances where police officers using excessive force on criminals? How many times have you heard of people being coerced into doing certain illegal actions because of the threats made by officials in higher authority? Sadly instances like this happen all the time but only a few make it to the public light if those victims take the chance and capture it on film or audio recording. While a number of officials sometimes go to jail or lose their jobs for abusing their powers, there is a much higher percentage getting away because of no physical surveillance, or surveillance not being used for the right purposes.

OpenWatch is a new project driven by citizens, that allows people like you and me to record footage of authoritative abuse and have it uploaded to the OpenWatch servers via a mobile phone. The audio or video feed is then reviewed and posted on the website for the whole world to see. Users can upload data anonymously, as well attach geodata to let others know exactly where the misdemeanor took place.  In many court cases of individuals vs. the authorities, the “your word against mine” defense rarely works and most successful cases need some form of physical evidence to help build the individual’s case.

This program comes as a step up from the citizen programs managed by news networks or websites that may only take one or two cases into consideration, out of the hundreds that may exist. While some agencies may set up surveillance systems to monitor their employees, many times the evidence may be destroyed or edited to help in protecting their own employees. It obviously makes the system useless, which is where OpenWatch can help.

There are two apps, the first one being the Android OpenWatch app which can upload audio or video to the servers, which have the options of tagging geodata and hiding any other information (for anonymity purposes). There is also the Cop Recorder which is available on the iPhone and Android which records audio and can be used to record one on one conversations between police officers and people under interrogation.

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