Who Can Watch Whom Under the Law?

Who can watch whom under the law? Is it ethical to release CCTV footage to to the public? What comes first, citizen privacy or state protection? These are all questions that have come up in the wake of the exposure of the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. As the Royal Commission into the matter begins, we are left wondering what further exposure may reveal. This raises the ethical question of whether or not CCTV footage is ethical and how its role within society can affect individuals. However the ethics and laws around CCTV footage remain murky. Dr Katina Michael, professor from the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong, joined us on the show to discuss these issues. 

Produced by Brooke Taylor and Annie Lewis

Katina Michael with Sean Britten, August 15, 2106, "Who can watch whom under the law?", 2SERFM, http://www.2ser.com/component/k2/item/24188-who-can-watch-whom-under-the-law

Dashcams Used to Gather Evidence of Adverse Driver Behaviour: Police Encourage Reporting by Citizen


Dashcams are proliferating. In some states of Australia, more than 10% of vehicles are fitted with this technology, and about 50% more want it. There has been a boom of followers of dashcam data, one Facebook site has about 200K members. Police in some states are encouraging people to store data that might be used toward prosecuting those involved in adverse driving behaviour, while in other states like Victoria, police are more circumspect about the use of dashcams and body-worn video recorders. Cameras can have an equiveillance effect, power by police is countered by citizen power through crowdsourced sousveillance. Yet, while footage might have been recorded, it is not always readily available given records management cycles and the like. It becomes particularly unappealing when law enforcement do not hand over important data on its officers, and the whole purpose of data retention comes into question. Complaints against officers have allegedly decreased as a result of body worn video recorders used by police forces, and evidence for the "use of force" by police have been supported by camera evidence. However, visual data is not unbiased as most would have it believe. It is contextual and like any data it can be used to misrepresent cases.

Tim Holt and Katina Michael. January 31, 2015, "Dashcams Used to Gather Evidence of Adverse Driver Behaviour: Police Encourage Reporting by Citizens" ABC South East NSW Radio: Mornings with Tim Holt (2015), Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kmichael/516/

Crime scene investigations need standards too

There is no typical crime scene – but documenting and collecting evidence is critical to solving the crime.
Consistent practices and procedures to preserve the integrity of material collected from crime scenes have been established in three recently published national forensic standards.
One of the benefits for consumers is that practices and procedures between states and territories will now be consistent. The new standards will for example minimise the disparity of interpretation of DNA samples.
Australia is taking a lead role in establishing forensic standardisation across the globe. Standards Australia has submitted a proposal to the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)  for inclusion as an international standard.
The new standards cover
  • the recognition, recording, recovery, transport and storage of material;
  • analysis and examination of materials; and
  • minimizing risk of contamination in products used for DNA purposes.
The Standards Australia Technical Committee CH-041 has been working on developing these standards for a number of years and  will be publishing two more core standards in the next few months.
Consumers Federation of Australia representative Katina Michael has been active on this committee.

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