These Programs Are Growing A Global Surveillance Network
Introducing The Surveillance Rebate Program Map.
📝 Monthly Round-Up
Amazon Ring Will Survive the Anti-Surveillance Backlash, Sidney Fussell — There is plenty of reporting on Amazon Ring and why they’re shit. This article, however, does an excellent job of succinctly unpacking the why behind not only what makes Ring dangerous, but why people love it anyway.
Privacy’s Not An Abstraction, Chris Gilliard — Really, I’m just going to quote a sentence from this article as encouragement for y’all to check out the rest yourselves: “Until we can come to better terms with the disparate impacts of privacy harms, the privileged will continue to pay for luxury surveillance, in the form of Apple Watches, IoT toilets, quantified baby products, Ring Doorbells, and Teslas, while marginalized populations will pay another price…”
When Companies Like Amazon Sell Paranoia, Black People Find Themselves Targeted, Vanessa Taylor — Whew, last time I will refer to one of my own articles in awhile. But this short piece on Amazon and surveillance companies selling paranoia is incredibly relevant to the project I’m introducing today.
Last month, a friend sent me a link to Washington, D.C.’s Private Security Camera System Incentive Program asking if I already knew about it. For those unaware, the program offers rebates to residents, businesses, nonprofits, and religious institutions if they install security cameras and register them with the Metropolitan Police Department.
Before it was sent to me, I knew nothing about D.C.’s program but I was not startled to see that it existed. I will always approach surveillance in the United States as an anti-Black project, so there is nothing unique about deputizing various institutions or individuals to participate in policing and control. And sure, these programs brand themselves as community safety initiatives, but let’s be real. We can all read between the lines.
However, the fact that I didn’t know about D.C.’s program made me curious about what else had slipped by unnoticed. This brings me to the point of today’s newsletter: introducing The Surveillance Rebate Program Map. The name is self-explanatory, I think.
This project didn’t begin as a map but just a short list I planned to send as an email. Within an hour of starting, I realized two things: Not only were there too many city-funded programs to include in a single list but I needed to expand my focus. Because not only do cities fund these programs but so do non-profits, homeowners associations, and others.
I kind of went with the flow when putting this map together and had only some basic rules. Like, I didn’t get into federal or state programs and focused on those happening at the city level or smaller (aside from one or two county police initiatives). Overall, I’ve used six different color pins and included a directory below to help you navigate the map.
There are a few things to note, too. First, not all of the programs I’ve included are still active today, and most of the raffles / giveaways were obviously one-time events. I found it relevant to include them regardless. Second, not every program is specifically for surveillance cameras — take Winnipeg’s Community Centre Renovation Grant as an example. But as long as these programs allowed for people to install or upgrade cameras, I included them.
Third, this map primarily has pins in the United States but I included examples in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I am interested in plotting more programs across the globe. Which brings me to my final point: The Surveillance Rebate Program Map is not complete. I intend for this map to be a living document. And so, I am asking for all of you to assist me. You can find out how to do so in the organizing section below.
City-sponsored surveillance programs, which means either the city itself or an entity within it, like police departments, are funding the rebates.
Ring match / subsidy programs. These programs are funded by both the cities involved and Ring.
Giveaways and raffles. While these are not technically rebate programs, it felt irresponsible to ignore them. Right now, these examples are limited to Ring products.
Others, like homeowner associations or various partnerships.
Mapping Surveillance Camera Rebate Programs — Normally, I include three different things in this section. But for this newsletter, I want to focus on the Surveillance Rebate Program Map.
If you come across any programs that I missed, you can let me know at the form above. It’s fine if you don’t know the answer to every question listed. As long as you can tell me the program’s name and / or location, I can do the rest!
Also, again, I want to expand this map globally. If a program or information about it isn’t in English, that’s fine. Please send it to me regardless.
Lastly, I am interested in connecting with community members / organizers combatting these programs for future newsletters. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal: 612-305-8211.