Spies Like Us

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By Bill Maher

Everybody seems to be getting those motion-sensing doorbell cameras that allow you to see real-time images of what’s going on outside your door through an app on your phone. You’ve seen the ads from companies like Ring – with just an alert on their phones, a man or woman at work catches a package thief on their porch or a burglar coming up their driveway and they’re able to verbally confront them, tell them to scram and even set off the house alarm. Pretty amazing technology. And now there are all these neighborhood-watch type groups springing up online, where neighbors share their surveillance footage of “strange vehicles” and “suspicious characters” in the area. Spoiler Alert: Many look like black people walking their dog. 

I’ve gotta say, it’s getting a little creepy. Without anyone ever asking anyone else’s permission, all of us are now pretty much on camera at all times when we’re out in public. There’s a vast private and public surveillance network and they’re starting to link up. Police departments across the country are increasingly encouraging these camera owners to “register” with them in case they need to quickly access your footage to solve a crime. And why not? It feels like you’re being deputized into the good fight and it creates kind of a neighborhood herd immunity from the bad guys.

But at what price? Trump’s already said the police are with him. And even if that’s a little paranoid, just on principle, should we as individuals in a free society be compliantly succumbing to this Stasi state where we’re gladly monitoring each other and ratting each other out? Maybe the price of a free society is you don’t get to know what’s happening on your porch while you’re at work.