Just because something makes good politics doesn’t necessarily make it good policy.
Less than a week after a moronic mob engaged in a well-documented rampage through the streets of Vancouver, a lot more normally sane people have made some puzzling decisions.
Among the biggest knee-jerk reactions that deserves some sober second thought is the decision by ICBC to use its facial recognition software to out people caught on camera during the riot. This might be wildly popular to a public embarrassed by June 15’s evening of idiocy but there are serious concerns about the true justness of allowing this to happen.
When groups who worry about such things as personal privacy and civil rights first took issue with ICBC over facial recognition software, the insurers were adamant that the technology would only be used to prevent identity theft and licence fraud. Vancouver police did not immediately take ICBC up on the offer and we hope better judgment will prevail. It’s a dangerous precedent that should worry anyone who believes in the right to publicly protest government policy.
There are far too many loose ends that first need to be addressed, such as who has responsibility for deciding what constitutes video evidence of someone committing an actual crime. Let’s not forget that thousands of people were simply caught up in what was a public catharsis over what had been an intensely emotional experience for millions of Canucks’ fans. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time does not deserve the kind of brutal shaming or calls for vigilante justice that so quickly flooded Facebook and Twitter.
The riots happened and we are disturbed and ashamed because they did. But we can’t pretend a few, quick public hangings will make things better.
The province was quick to announce it would pay for an intensive task force to prosecute rioters. This might gain political mileage but we have to question how much bang for the buck taxpayers will get out of this, and whether justice will really be better served.
It’s time to get some perspective on what happened on how to prevent it from occurring again.
It is not the time to make decisions that reflect the same level of emotional immaturity as those who lost themselves in a mob last Wednesday.