Abstract

This paper describes the author's own personal experiences, experiments, and lifelong narrative of inventing, designing, building, and living with a variety of body-borne computer-based visual information capture and mediation devices. The emphasis is not just on the devices themselves, but on certain social, privacy, ethical, and legal questions and challenges that have arisen from actual experiences with lifelong video capture, processing, transmission, and dissemination in a variety of different everyday cultural settings over the past 30 years. The most interesting of these accidentally-found questions pertain to: (1) inverse surveillance (body-borne audiovisual and other sensor capture, storage, recall, and processing, known in the research literature as “sousveillance”); and (2) the epistemology of freewill and metaphysics of choice that seems to arise from an apparent reversal of the now pervasive and ubiquitous notion of surveillance.

Extrapolating from these lessons, several hypotheses are presented, including: (1) sousveillance, like surveillance, will be driven by rapid development of new technology, leaving legal frameworks lagging behind technology; (2) the growth of sousveillance will accelerate greatly when implementations come with other non-sousveillance uses (e.g., camera phones because of their strategic ambiguity with regard to whether they are being used to take a picture or for just a voice call); (3) legal frameworks will tend to support rather than oppose sousveillance; (4) such legal protections will favor video sousveillance over video surveillance just as they now favor audio sousveillance over audio surveillance; (5) such legal protections will emerge first for the disabled (e.g., the visually impaired); and will then expand to encompass other legitimate and beneficial uses of sousveillance (personal safety, evidence gathering, etc.); (6) a person wishing to do lifelong sousveillance is deserving of certain legal protections liabilizing others who might attempt to disrupt continuity of evidence.

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