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June 22, 2011
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iPhone app enables secret police recording

OpenWatch bills itself as "a counter-surveillance using cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures"

By PoliceOne Staff

Cops have another thing to watch out for in the growing trend of citizens filming police activity: OpenWatch, an app for iPhone or Android that turns them into secret audio and video recording devices.

The purpose of the app, developed by 23-year-old Rich Jones, is to serve as a "a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures", primarily police.

According to Forbes, the OpenWatch app for Android lets users choose to make either an audio file or a video, recording invisibly when it’s activated and running in the background of the operating system. The app both stores the media files on the phone as well as offers the option to upload them to OpenWatch’s server, where clips that capture noteworthy interactions with police or "potential abuses" are edited and anonymously posted online.

Jones told Forbes the project receives about one clip daily of police interactions, including a recent California DUI stop where the user refused to submit to a sobriety test.

“I won’t say, ‘don’t use this anywhere it’s illegal,’” he told Forbes. “I want to make it convenient for people to be subversive. And because states like Massachusetts and Illinois have laws like they do, they may be the states that most need to have the spotlight shined on them.”


About the OpenWatch Project from OpenWatch on Vimeo.

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