22 votes

Leaked emails show crime app Citizen is testing on-demand private security force

12 comments

  1. [4]
    psi
    Link
    Is this a preview of our impending capitalist hellscape? Should we really aspire to revert once private, now public services back into private services? I mean, the history of police brutality in...

    "The broad master plan was to create a privatized secondary emergency response network," one former Citizen employee told Motherboard.

    Is this a preview of our impending capitalist hellscape? Should we really aspire to revert once private, now public services back into private services? I mean, the history of police brutality in the United States can be traced back to private police forces like slave patrols and union-busters.

    And what constitutes an "emergency response network"? Does Citizen aspire to privatize EMS and firefighting next? Were Citizen's founders inspired by Crassus's fire brigade?

    24 votes
    1. Greg
      Link Parent
      I've long asserted that Snow Crash (perhaps sans the digression into Babylonian philosophy) is the most realistic vision of our future. What Citizen are building is almost literally a MetaCops...

      I've long asserted that Snow Crash (perhaps sans the digression into Babylonian philosophy) is the most realistic vision of our future. What Citizen are building is almost literally a MetaCops franchise.

      5 votes
    2. stu2b50
      Link Parent
      From what I know this is basically the reality of South Africa right now, where the police are completely unable to handle basic crime prevention at this point and, for those that can afford it,...

      From what I know this is basically the reality of South Africa right now, where the police are completely unable to handle basic crime prevention at this point and, for those that can afford it, home security is entirely handled by private security, with promptness determined by price of the plan you pay for.

      That's probably what they're trying to be.

      5 votes
  2. ras
    Link
    Elevator pitch: Nextdoor with guns.

    Elevator pitch: Nextdoor with guns.

    17 votes
  3. [3]
    acdw
    Link
    How the hell is Citizen (Which I'm only now hearing of) even allowed to exist in its current form? And then on top of that, just like, now you can just pay a private company to SWAT people. Noooooo.

    How the hell is Citizen (Which I'm only now hearing of) even allowed to exist in its current form? And then on top of that, just like, now you can just pay a private company to SWAT people. Noooooo.

    16 votes
    1. [2]
      Octofox
      Link Parent
      In its current form it sounds like nextdoor or basically all local social media. The planned expansion sounds like turning private security guards (which are perfectly legal) in to some kind of...

      In its current form it sounds like nextdoor or basically all local social media. The planned expansion sounds like turning private security guards (which are perfectly legal) in to some kind of gig economy rather than having them stand on premise all day.

      6 votes
      1. acdw
        Link Parent
        Yeah that sounds terrible. It'd be a matter of time before they killed somebody.

        Yeah that sounds terrible. It'd be a matter of time before they killed somebody.

        6 votes
  4. Qis
    Link
    Fuck this fuck this fuck this!! Thuggery and fear mongering!! Absolutely reprehensible use of technology and utterly corrosive social posturing!!

    Fuck this fuck this fuck this!! Thuggery and fear mongering!! Absolutely reprehensible use of technology and utterly corrosive social posturing!!

    13 votes
  5. EgoEimi
    (edited )
    Link
    The TL;DR is — private violence fills the vacuum when the state fails to monopolize violence, and it's a fundamental human thing, not a capitalism or technology thing. I offer a different...

    The TL;DR is — private violence fills the vacuum when the state fails to monopolize violence, and it's a fundamental human thing, not a capitalism or technology thing.

    I offer a different perspective: that this isn't the fault of capitalism or technology (though they are facilitating it) but there is a fundamentally human phenomenon underway.

    I think:

    1. The police are the state's monopoly on (legitimate) violence.
    2. Violence or the capacity for violence are necessary to perform state functions: enforce contracts, resolve disputes, etc. (Of course, virtually all human interactions are successfully completed incident-free through mutual trust and without violence, as they ideally should be. But violence is the ultimate backstop and guarantor. For example, if I were to enter someone's home, refuse to leave, and continue invading further and further, violence — state or private — will ultimately be used against me.)
    3. The recession of effective policing — or at least the perception of which — signals that state monopoly on violence is incomplete and therefore there is a vacuum.
    4. Private actors will then expand their own ad hoc capacities for violence to fill that vacuum to fulfill functions that the state fails to provide (or is perceived to fail to provide).

    In the US, you can see these ad hoc private capacities for violence manifesting. Gun ownership has increased sharply in California recently. In California, stores have been ramping up private security. I see that nearly every store that isn't small has a security guard, often multiple: grocery stores, clothing stores, pharmacies, and so on. It's very clear that there is private demand for policing — and so there will be private solutions.

    This isn't California but it's related. Albania is one of the marijuana growing and drug centers of the world thanks to two related factors:

    1. Law enforcement is extremely weak, thus the state has little monopoly on violence.
    2. Family and family honor are prime in Albanian culture, as enshrined in their customary laws, the Kanun. There are running blood feuds between families. This pattern is not uniquely Albanian: you see it in many places of the world, like Egypt. When the state is effectively absent, the family or clan becomes the state: justice and other affairs are handled internally.
    3. Families/clans as mini-states are perfect as drug enterprises. In such families, blood bonds are supremely strong and enforced by violence — which is what honor killings are. And you see them happen in countries with family-first cultures and lack of state monopoly on violence like Afghanistan and, unsurprisingly, Albania! See gjakmarra. So, you can trust family members to be reliable business partners in the drug trade. The consequences of family betrayal are very grave. Americans think that unfriending family members on social media and having separate Christmases and Thanksgiving are the height of family ostracism, ha!
    8 votes
  6. [2]
    Octofox
    Link
    This seems like a pretty shitty was to solve the problem of police responding too slowly to incidents. Perhaps the solution would be collecting metrics on how long each incident takes to respond...

    This seems like a pretty shitty was to solve the problem of police responding too slowly to incidents. Perhaps the solution would be collecting metrics on how long each incident takes to respond to and aiming in improving that.

    The problem is you can never get these systems implemented in state owned organisations because they don’t want accountability. They have no profit motive to be efficient and the “customers” don’t have much of an alternative if they aren’t happy with the current operations.

    1 vote
    1. JXM
      Link Parent
      They actually do collect those metrics and have standards (most US cities and counties are legally required to). The legal term is “level of service”. They have goals to hit and they either hit...

      They actually do collect those metrics and have standards (most US cities and counties are legally required to). The legal term is “level of service”. They have goals to hit and they either hit them or someone gets dragged in front of the local government and called to task or fired.

      7 votes