So, how is this relevant today? Well, a link on Reddit led me to a disturbing but entirely consistent-with-this trend discovery: Google’s Transparency Report, in which Google describes the number and type of take-down demands it receives. Did you think that the New Professionals would be content arresting photographers in the street? Hell, no. If we’ve gone digital, so have they. And they know how to work the system. Google reports:
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.
Click that link and see the statistics for various six-month periods. Note that Google records not just take-down demands (including categories for executive and police demands premised on “national security” and “criticism,” among others), but demands for user identifying information. Police would never abuse the system by demanding the identity of photographers who posted videos documenting their conduct, would they? Heaven forfend.
So: bear in mind, when you consider measures like SOPA, that giving the government increased power over internet posts and increased ability to seek out user information may not just impact talking about music and movies — it might impact our ability to talk about, and document, police misconduct. Think the police would never seek to abuse such power? Then you’re a damned fool.
[This will get worse before it gets better.]