by Madison Ruppert
Recently I reported on the concerted effort to bring citizen spying into the digital age with applications on smartphones which can be used to report “suspicious activity” to local homeland security fusion centers.
This has expanded even more thanks to the hard work of individuals like 25-year-old Eman Pahlevani, a student at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
Pahlevani launched an application last month called CrimePush after several months of development with his brother and a friend.
The application allows users to send in reports in the form of text, pictures or video directly to local law enforcement after police dispatch centers set up their accounts with CrimePush.
After the dispatchers have registered, users of Android-based devices and Apple iPhones within the given area are able to download the application dedicated to that location and start sending in tips, no matter how erroneous.
Interestingly, Pahlevani claims that at least one county in every single state in the United States had expressed interest in using the application in just the first three weeks after launching it.
He said that he has been getting a great deal of support from his professors, saying, “They’ve all given me a lot of feedback of: ‘It’s going to be a game changer for people who want to report crime and get information to police.’”
While this might be true, it’s also going to be a game changer for police officers who are inundated by false reports, misleading information, maliciously submitted reports and so on.
In a question and answer session with the Concord Monitor out of Concord, New Hampshire, Pahlevani revealed that he decided to turn his idea into a mobile application to appeal to young people, or as he put it, “this generation growing up with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We thought this would be a good way to open up lines of communication between the younger generation and police authorities.”
It’s also a great way to condition people into reporting every little thing to police, especially when the federal government classifies just about everything as an indicator of possible terrorism.
Pahlevani said that users are able to choose from nine kinds of crime in the app when submitting their crime report, although it is unclear what these categories are in the article. However, I was able to locate a screenshot from the application (shown above) which shows the following categories: theft, threat, altercation, sexual abuse, medical, accident, vandalism, drugs and harassment.
He told the local news outlet that police and sheriffs across the nation have been requesting that they be integrated and they have been customizing the application for every county that has expressed interest.
Pahlevani boasted that 300-500 counties across America are trying to get integrated with them right now, but he did not say how many counties are already integrated into the system.
He said that while he is offering this to counties for free for now, this is going to become a for-profit endeavor.
After they get enough counties and police districts involved in using the application, he plans on forcing them to pay a licensing fee of $1,000 per year per county, something which he claims is “an extremely nominal fee.”
Sure, it might be nominal if one county was using it, but when you consider the fact that there are 3,141 total counties and “statistically equivalent entities” in the United States as of January 1, 1990, the “extremely nominal fee” starts to add up, although it would remain free for users.
Obviously this is not being done purely out of the kindness of their hearts, as evidenced by an advertisement (screenshot here in case it is removed) for a Vice President of Business Development offering “$65,000 – $85,000 first year commissions.”
It gets even more interesting when he brings up the possibilities that these could be used in schools, further criminalizing our children and making the public education system an even more efficient school-to-prison pipeline.
“We also are working right now with high schools and middle schools because superintendents in different counties and principals want to use this with students between periods,” Pahlevani said, “so if they go from class to class and they see a fight or they see a drug deal … they can just send it directly to school authorities.”
All of this is just intended to encourage what some might call snitching, which I prefer to call voluntary citizen spying.
The most absurd part is that there is no incentive given to the users other than the good feeling they might get from reporting what they think might be criminal activity to the “authorities.”
Furthermore, this is a massive waste of police time and resources. People could report their unfriendly neighbor or their ex-mate with whom they had a less-than-amicable break up in order to have the police kick down their door and hassle them.
I do not see any real reason for applications like this to exist. If there is an emergency or an actual crime, it would be much faster and more efficient to just call 911 directly rather than opening an application, choosing a type of crime, typing some report out or snapping a picture.
Hopefully young people won’t be silly enough to snatch this up and start accepting this type of society just because it’s a cool application on their shiny new iPhone or Android device.