2010-09-27

Snitching on your neighbors: there's an app for that!

This is simply revolting. On the home page of SnapScouts.org you'll find this description:

Want to earn tons of cool badges and prizes while competing with you friends to see who can be the best American? Download the SnapScouts app for your Android phone (iPhone app coming soon) and get started patrolling your neighborhood.

It's up to you to keep America safe! If you see something suspicious, Snap it! If you see someone who doesn't belong, Snap it! Not sure if someone or something is suspicious? Snap it anyway!

Play with your friends and family to see who can get the best prizes. Join the SnapScouts today!

A few things stand out here:
  • This is a site and app aimed squarely at kids.
  • The idea that being a "good American" involves being a snitch or invading people's privacy.
  • Being a good snitch earns you cool badges and prizes (a bigger camera to more effectively snoop? a parabolic mic for listening in on and recording neighbors?)

SnapScouts.org's founders, George Parsons and Winston O'Brien, claim they are doing this for a public service and don't look to make money on this. They also admit they are being funded by the likes of CCTV UK, Xe (formerly known as Blackwater), and a couple other groups that look like thinly veiled fronts for foreign and domestic intelligence agencies.

The site creators admit that the app is aimed squarely at children, claiming that kids make "the perfect reporters, unbiased and unprejudiced by media concepts." Kids are also much easier to brainwash and haven't yet learned that being a snitch isn't equivalent to good citizenship (and quite possibly illegal).

As revolting as the privacy implications of this app are, it puts kids in danger. Eventually Johnny Snitch is going to try to earn his "Busted a Mobster" badge and end up at the mercy of Don Vito and his crew as a result. Somehow I suspect George Parsons and Winston O'Brien will hide behind their lawyers when something unfortunate befalls Johnny Snitch.
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