Tag Archives: Accountability

The Rise of Police Body Cameras

LondonCctvIrony (1)

Police departments across the country are rapidly increasing their technological capacity to become a more efficient and effective force. These technologies vary from new weapons, wide-area surveillance, facial recognition software, closed caption television cameras, and crime mapping software. Each of these technologies is oriented towards identifying offenders and preventing or intervening in crime incidents. The technology has become a multi-billion dollar industry with vendors regularly contacting departments attempting to sell them the next great technology. One technology becoming increasingly popular with the police is body-cameras. The police are beginning to wear small cameras on their shirt, hat, or sunglasses in order to capture interactions with citizens. The body-cameras are one of the few technologies adopted by the police that focus on limiting police behavior. Body cameras are thought to reduce police deviance and increase police professionalism by monitoring police actions (Ariel & Farrar, 2014). The movement towards police wearing body cameras causes the police to be more aware of their behaviors and acts as a deterrent for the police committing crimes. Multiple research studies indicate video technology alters the behavior of offenders (Chartrand, & Bargh, 1999; IACP, 2004).   (more…)

I See the Target: Social Media and the Accountability of Military Technology

An image from Bridle’s Dronestagram

In a recent article, Brad Allenby and Carolyn Mattick argue that the ‘rule book’ of international warfare needs to be rewritten to include of the use of new technologies, in particular drones.[1] Drones sit in an ambiguous legal space because they are unmanned aerial vehicles that are often used to fly in a restricted airspace. Compounding this problem is that the use of drones is largely undocumented as a matter of national secrecy. Nevertheless another layer of technology, social media, is now providing a battleground for visual accountability. On the one hand, I want to draw attention to the use of Instagram to highlight the use of social media to inform – and critique – the use of drones through layered representations of their targets. On the other, and competing with this critique, we must look at the use of drone target visuals released by governments to communicate the drones precision and safety. These examples are a way of demonstrating how social media produces a visual politics that can be used to highlight the use of these new military technologies. This contestation for visual accountability may be the social inroads to in fact see the target. The target I am alluding to here is not what the drones see but the frameworks that that legitimatize the actions of these drones.

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Chevron Contaminates Water Sources with Toxic Waste

Photo of the Amazon Rainforest Courtesy of Francisco Chaves

Indigenous people residing in Ecuador filed an environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corporation for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste in the Amazon rainforest between 1964 and 1990. The indigenous people argue that Chevron’s toxic waste disposal resulted in $27 billion worth of damages. For instance, evidence suggests that Chevron’s former oil drilling sites are contaminated with toxic byproducts that cause cancer. The indigenous people drink from water sources contaminated by these toxic byproducts.

Chevron hired twelve public relations firms to address the claims of the indigenous people. Undoubtedly, Chevron also hired the public relations firms to respond to organizations criticizing Chevron for engaging in unethical behavior. Some shareholders disapprove of Chevron’s response to the environmental lawsuit, which includes hiring Hill & Knowlton. Interestingly, this public relations firm represented the tobacco industry during its indictment about tobacco causing cancer.

Recently, the common theme of corporate irresponsibility became apparent. Chevron denied responsibility for its contaminants. Also in the news, Toyota Motor Corporation reluctantly announced a safety recall of several million vehicles with sticking gas pedals. If corporations engage in actions (i.e., dumping toxic waste in Chevron’s case; selling vehicles with faulty parts in Toyota’s case) that result in serious illnesses and injuries, then should they be held accountable? Or, more pointedly, should executives be held criminally responsible for the actions that they endorse while managing corporations? How can we influence executives to place the health and safety of human beings over the corporate bottom line?

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“Economic Globalization: Corporations” By Peter Dicken

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Toyota Motor Corporation announced a safety recall of several million vehicles that have problems with sticking gas pedals causing acceleration.

Until recently, corporate executives argued that consumer complaints about sudden acceleration were related to floor mats which were recalled in 2007. However, corporate executives were aware of problems with sticking gas pedals three years ago – according to a filing with federal regulators.

United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood contends that corporate executives stopped selling and producing their vehicles with faulty gas pedals “because we asked them to.” In contrast, corporate executives state that they voluntarily stopped sales and production. If the latter is true, why did corporate executives wait so long to initiate the recall?

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