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Advances in technology mean less privacy

Posted June 16, 2010

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— It's a relatively new phenomenon – video becoming an instant story and, thanks to the Internet, being seen around the world.

This week, North Carolina Democrat Bob Etheridge was caught on camera in a confrontation with two men on a Washington, D.C., street in which he grabs one of their wrists and then grabs one of them around the neck.

The video was posted on YouTube and various other websites earlier this week, and since then, it has been viewed millions of times.

Outrage over Etheridge’s response to the camera prompted a protest outside the congressman's Raleigh office Wednesday.

"I kept watching that video over and over," protester Randy Dye said. "Bob Etheridge – he could have easily said no comment and walked on."

Advances in technology are allowing people to more easily capture moments, such as the Etheridge confrontation, on photo and video with their cell phones and then easily post it on social networking websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

"It's a lot like Big Brother," said social media expert Hudson Haines. "You do have to be aware. Everything you do, somebody can see it, for sure."

Haines is an account executive with Raleigh Internet marketing firm Fragment. Although social networking sites allow everyone a chance to express their opinions, he says that might not always be a good thing.

"You could lose a job or be denied a job because of something that went up on YouTube or Facebook," Haines said. "At some point, I think it's going to be important for people who are in the public eye to hire companies who monitor what's being said about you."

Law enforcement agencies are also learning to deal with the trend.

This week, video of a Seattle police officer in a confrontation with two women on the street made national news after it was posted on YouTube.

And last month, video of New Hanover County sheriff's deputies using a stun gun on a streaker in Wrightsville Beach also ended up on the Internet and in the news.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says more and more people locally are using their cell phones to record arrests that occur in public and that more people submitting complaints are using video.

"When we're doing our job, we shouldn't have anything to worry about," Harrison said. "That's why I wish we had cameras in every car that we have. We have so many complaints that come in that are false. It helps us."



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  • tjdebord Jun 17, 2010

    There should be no expectation of privacy if you are out in public. How difficult is that to understand.

  • EvilSithLord Jun 17, 2010

    It makes you wonder how many more charlatans like Uncle Bob get away with it because there is not a camera within striking distance.

  • clayt85 Jun 17, 2010

    Sure, Etheridge should have known better. But these idiots were walking down the street and shoved a camera in his face. If you don't get to act as you please and disregard all journalistic ethics while still believing yourself to be owed some semblance of respect. If you want to be treated like a journalist, act like one. The fact the these guys refused to identify themselves, hiding behind the line that they were "students" shows that they were up to no good anyway.

    If Etheridge had wanted my vote, he would have punched their lights out.

  • dmccall Jun 17, 2010

    Etheridge's actions happened in a PUBLIC SIDEWALK. Perhaps there is a better time than now to bring up the moans about "privacy"

  • ConcernedCitizen3 Jun 17, 2010

    Sheriff Harrison is a real professional. I agree completely with his opinion on the usefulness of video.

  • Mr. Iowa Jun 17, 2010

    The title to this story is incorrect. There was nothing private about what happens on a Washington D.C. street. Instead, advances in technology mean that what you do PUBLICLY is better documented for a more widespread audience.

    If someone was sneaking a camera into his bathroom and video taping him showering and posting that on the internet, THEN you can make the claim that he has lost his privacy (and someone would be going to jail, too).

  • brentf777 Jun 16, 2010

    There's no reason politicians or police SHOULD have anything to worry about as long as they're not overstepping the bounds of their authority. I think what these people are really afraid of is accountability. Politicans and police both regularly behave as they themselves are above the law (and in practice if not paper, to large extent they are). Any tool that enables "We the People" to put a check on their power is a valuable asset in the never ending battle against tyranny. The price of liberty is eternal vigilence. Someone needs to be watching the watchers.