Getting body cameras right

(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0-licensed photo by adoephoto.)

Together with several civil rights and social justice organizations, Data & Society has signed in support of the Civil Rights Principles on Body Worn Cameras announced today by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Following the high-profile deaths of several individuals in encounters with police, the U.S. has become captivated with the promise of body-worn cameras to increase police accountability. The call to arms and collective buy-in from a variety of stakeholders has led to a need for principles to outline specific policy safeguards. The “Civil Rights Principles on Body Worn Cameras” are designed to ensure that body cameras, and the data collected by them, enhance accountability and transparency in police-civilian interactions, rather than becoming tools for injustice.

To add to the discussion, Data & Society founder danah boyd and researcher Alex Rosenblat published It’s Not Too Late to Get Body Cameras Right in The Atlantic today. The article lays out some key concerns about the social implications stemming from the expanded use of police body worn cameras.

“It’s Not Too Late to Get Body Cameras Right” and Data & Society’s support of the principles build upon the Police Body-Worn Cameras primer that we released earlier this year. This working paper by Alexandra Mateescu, Alex Rosenblat, and danah boyd maps existing research on body cameras and what is known (and not) about their impact – and identifies hard questions that need to be asked now about their deployment and use.

Research and engagement around body cameras is part of Data & Society’s continuing efforts to identify the issues and opportunities produced by the intersection of “big data,” civil rights, and fairness.

We welcome your feedback: datacivilrights at datasociety dot net.