Ethics Around Apps Recording Crimes
The advantages of apps that allow anyone to report crimes securely and discreetly are clear. For the first time in history, we are not dependent only on a neutral eyewitness to a crime. Technology is unbiased mainly in its “witnessing” of any event. The man who likely attacked me was acquitted because there were no recordings, and I could remember nothing after the coma. If Zeer captured the attack, it would be indisputable what happened. The jury then becomes the arbiter of truth.
But, the ethical issues are significant. A problem we at Zeer wrestle with is how perpetrators may use our technology to control the narrative in an abusive relationship. The context of recordings is influential and can be lost by intentionally timing the activation of Zeer.
In the future, I expect near-ubiquity of audio, video, and metadata collection to be everywhere outside the home. In one sense, this supports our mission of driving down the prevalence of crime, which will hopefully put us out of business. On the other, it raises serious problems of constant surveillance by the state or other powerful stakeholders who report to no one of consequence. Either way, as the costs go down, this will be the future. It practically already exists in cities like London.
Strong and free democracies, which are on the wane, will be necessary to balance public safety, personal privacy, and the technology that can support both.
-Adam David Jones, CEO Zeer, www.zeersafe.com