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Rich writes about a proposal which would require permission to own a Geiger counter in NYC (pictured here the USB one I used to measure radiation on a plane). Post your thoughts in the comments. Rich writes -

So I find this attempt by the City of New York to regulate sensors to be fascinating. It is hard to read the article, and especially a couple of the comments, without feeling like we are living in the movie Brazil.

There is probably a huge history of bans on the ability to observe reality, and I just don’t read enough history, but this seems like an attempt to exert a new level of control.

Various bans on publishing data, for example the EPA chemical hazards databases, are related. As are bans on radio scanners and RADAR detectors, but both of those seem like a different kind of thing than regulating the ability to observe objective reality.

It also comes at near the last possible moment (if not too late already) when sensors could be regulated before they become (even more totally) ubiquitous.

Having a ‘Warranty Voider’ t-shirt in my closet and knife in my pocket makes me think of this proposed regulation in a different way. It makes me want a Social Contract Voider.

The article refers to the mostly hypothetical cases of people monitoring schools and their environment for toxins. I know that is a popular theme when we spin our tales of the coming sensor web utopia, and I’ve seen a few projects in that area, but it would be great to draw more attention to people powered sensor networks.

There really is an amorphous They who don’t want us to know what is going on in our local environment. I’d love to see the radicalization of personal sensor nets.

Having this data fits in with the other puzzle pieces I’ve been working on for a while now, with a geoweb and maps to tell stories, and my recent Gigapan work. And the attempts to limit this data also fit in with experiences I’ve been having where people somehow feel they have a right to stop me from taking pictures.

Taking a picture is a radical act. Making a map is a radical act. Taking a sensor reading is a radical act. And putting them together to tell a story is the most radical of radical acts.

village voice > news > Runnin’ Scared: NYPD Seeks an Air Monitor Crackdown for New Yorkers by Chris Thompson – Link.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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