Taser Wants to Build an Army of Smartphone Informants
Axon, the world’s largest vendor of police-worn body cameras, is moving into the business of capturing video taken by the public. In a survey emailed to law enforcement officials last month, the company formerly known as Taser International solicited naming ideas for its provisionally titled Public Evidence Product. According to the survey, the product will allow citizens to submit photos or video evidence of “a crime, suspicious activity, or event” to Evidence.com, the company’s cloud-based storage platform, to help agencies “in solving a crime or gathering a fuller point of view from the public.” Civil rights advocates interviewed by The Intercept were surprised to learn about the corporation’s latest initiative, seeing it as yet another untested effort to co-opt community oversight and privatize criminal justice.
“When police body cameras were initially established, it was because citizens were clamoring for police accountability,” explained Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “But we’ve seen how cameras have been more useful for police investigations than for accountability. This product realizes those dangers and takes them to a new dystopian level by crowdsourcing the collection of evidence and turning it over to law enforcement