Initiatives like Witness have been doing it for years, but sites like YouTube resulting in a surge of new videos that expose Police excesses, corruption and brutality even in New York.
A recent article for the NY Times (Officers Become Accidental YouTube Stars) explores the issue further and is in effect an article about citizens empowered through digital media to record what they experience and see. In the US, their right to record is constitutionally protected. But in other regimes, it’s more difficult to act as citizen journalists. Either way, new media and ICTs are bearing witness in ways that would not have been possible a few years ago, or even imagined a few decades before.
YouTube may be 99.9% drivel, but a single video that exposes human rights abuse or violence and helps bring the perpetrators to justice is reason enough to encourage the use of mobile phones and online video to strengthen democracy and our active participation in governance.