Extraordinary times call for extraordinary solutions. The ISIS-inspired mass shooting in Orlando this morning reminds us of the recent San Bernardino shooting and the resistance that the FBI encountered when Apple refused to cooperate in revealing the contents of the shooters’ phone. This is why we need to support the efforts of the new Open Book initiative, which is loosely modeled on the Score Assured startup’s attempt to help landlords and others gain the information needed to make proper choices about whom to rent to and whom to hire.
As Caitlin Dewey notes in the Washingto Post, Score Assured’s Tenant Assured is already live. With it, landlords can require prospected tenants to authorize access to their social media profiles, so they can know from what you post on Facebook, Linked, Twitter, and Instagram whether you are a good risk as a tenant. “‘If you’re living a normal life,’ [Score Assured’ co-founder Steve] Thornhill assured me, ‘then, frankly, you have nothing to worry about.'” Open Book works in a similar way in that it collects information which can be useful by authorities as they ensure public safety. With Open Book, certain individuals will be asked to install webcams in their dwellings so that their activities can be tracked to ensure they are not a danger to society. If, for instance, Open Book had been enabled in the dwellings of the San Bernardino shooters, or the Orlando shooter, authorities might have been alerted to the sheer abundance of weaponry in the dwellings, and been able to take preemptive action.
When asked about the privacy concerns raised when individuals are required to place cameras in their dwellings, the Open Book founder countered with an argument similar to that of Score Assured’s Steve Thornhill, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you should have no concerns about our monitoring.” He went on to add that he is working closely with the NRA to ensure that its members aren’t mistakenly identified as public safety threats merely by presence of guns in their dwellings.
While some may cringe at the intrusion into private spaces, as does Caitlin Dewey in her article on Score Assured, others see opportunities. A group of religious universities have signed up and are now monitoring their students to ensure they don’t engage in inappropriate activities, such as taking drugs or having illicit sex. “The spiritual well-being of our students is our paramount concern. We’re particularly interested in intercepting and eliminating any homosexual activity,” stated one university president. The Human Services department of the state of Oklahoma was considering the program for monitoring welfare recipients. Even the federal Office of National Health gave wary acceptance to the program noting that, “We might be able to detect certain medical conditions for early intervention, particularly those individuals are reluctant to admit, like erectile dysfunction.”
As Open Book expands its reach, we can all rest more comfortably that corporations, landlords, and the government are redoubling their efforts to keep us safe.