Garrett Leahy and Michael McLaughlin writing for the San Francisco Standard: ‘It’s completely invasive’: New app lets you spy on SF bars to see if they’re poppin’.

The founders of 2Night, which until Wednesday had been called NightEye, thought they could do for drinkers and clubbers what Surfline does for surfers. The company has a network of cameras across San Francisco venues that lets app users see how busy events are in real-time so revelers can decide if the vibe is right for them. The app also lists upcoming live Bay Area events and links to the Instagram accounts of featured artists.

I think that this article sums up the majority of varieties of American takes on surveillance in America.

For example:

“You should be able to let loose in a bar where Big Brother isn’t watching you,” said Lauren S., a woman in her mid-30s who declined to share her last name to protect her privacy.

Personally, I’ve rarely in my life ever gone to a bar or a club, so this specific example is something to be a bit foreign to me. I’m not sure how I’d want to be when I “cut loose”. However, I think that the stance that I have is not represented in the responses to this company’s attempts at setting up public video feeds in bars - I don’t think internal surveillance cameras should exist - anywhere - ever. Well - maybe baby monitors.

Standing away from the mosh pit Berkeley resident Alex Sherman, 33, said he was only “casually concerned” that he was in a livestream, given that there was no sign or other disclosure he could be on camera.
“But I don’t really care,” Sherman said. “I’d assume I’m in public.”

This man’s argument makes sense to me - if you’re in a public place, one should have a limited expectation of privacy, however isn’t there a difference between being seen by people who are also in that place compared to anyone in the world that can tune in?

On a final note in regards to this web service that is on the far side of this continent and doesn’t effect me at all - if there is value in knowing how busy a club is - how about a door counter hooked up to a public feed? Is there 10 people inside? Or a hundred? I feel this would satisfy the people who want to know if they’re about to go to a busy place or a quiet place, and this information can happen without sacrificing any individual person’s privacy.

Personally, I think that there are more people who have Alex Sherman’s take on things in America, because we’ve had a couple generations of accepting that there are cameras pointed at us when we shop, when we work, when we drive. These cameras do not keep you safe from anything. They might document crimes against you, but they do not prevent them, and if law enforcement’s average response time (presuming they have any interest in helping you) isn’t instant - those cameras will do nothing to summon help. They exist to document your crimes, since it’s perfectly fine to presume everyone in America is a single choice away from personal or property crimes. I think that we only tolerate it because our media continually tells us to be afraid of our neighbors, so we accept that we need to treat the other people around us as thieves and murderers.

For a country that likes to bang the drum about “liberty”, its government has done a fantastic job of convincing its citizenry that its authoritarian actions are for safety from itself.

Further listening: Dead Prez’s Police State