OpenWatch & CopRecorder: Two Covert Apps for Spying on the Cops

Two Covert Apps for Spying on the Cops

OpenWatch & CopRecorder: Two Covert Apps for Spying on the Cops

Smartphones are impressive devices, to say the least. A smartphone user can consume TV, music & movies; communicate via streaming video; check the weather; record audio; take professional quality video footage; snap high quality photos… The list just continues to grow and grow. With all of these incredible capabilities, why not add surveillance?

A recent article over at the Atlantic highlights a fascinating project by 23-year-old hacker Rich Jones. CopRecorder (iPhone) and OpenWatch (Android) are part of an experiment Jones describes as "a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures." In short, CopRecorder and Openwatch are apps that covertly record audio during encounters with authority figures, enabling the user to submit the audio anonymously to the OpenWatch site.

Here's a brief explanation of the project (plus instructions for installation):

Jones was inspired to build the app when some friends encountered conflict with the police, and may have been aided by the ability to record audio of the situation. With 50,000 downloads and counting, Jones hopes the app will create a "new kind of journalism". He tells the Atlantic: "When people think citizen media, right now they think amateur journalism... I don't think that's revolutionary. I don't think that's what the '90s cyberutopianists were dreaming of. I think the real value of citizen media will be collecting data."

Read more about the project here.

2 Comments

he strives for a just and transparent society, while enabling the normal civilian with more power. but a normal civilian, i believe, is ten times more likely to break the law or bend the rules then any police officer. And to also include that they are willing to put there life on the line and protect us. but police officers can become corrupt. Were only human.

Looks really promising. Maybe this will make cops think twice about messing with the average Joe just cause they can. (Not that all cops do, i know some really swell ones with good morals) but i think most people have come in contact with a cop or someone similar that abused their power or did things that were questionable... Got my download!

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