Local News

Advances in technology mean less privacy

Posted June 16, 2010 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2010 9:46 p.m. EDT

— 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."