One very considerable advantage of the greater dissemination of video phones is increased ability to effectively document police brutality and other abuses of power. A recent example example involves UCLA police officers gratuitously using tazers on students in a library. While that situation cannot be entirely understood from the YouTube video, it supports testimony given elsewhere that the use of force was excessive and inappropriate. Hopefully, these tazer-happy UCLA police officers will end up in jail. At least one other incident filmed with a camera phone and uploaded to YouTube is being investigated by the FBI. That incident is also discussed in this editorial.
As I have said again and again here: protection of the individual from unreasonable or arbitrary power – in the hands of government and its agents – is a crucial part of the individual security of all citizens in democratic states. In a world where normal activities increasingly take place within sight of CCTV cameras, it’s nice to see that recording technology can also work for the protection of individuals or – at least – improve the odds of things being set to rights after abuse takes place.
Just don’t expect for it to be impossible for people to determine whose camera was used to shoot the video. Apparently, output from digital cameras can be linked to the specific unit that produced it.