Getting people into (legal) trouble through mapping

A propos the recent discussion Mapping of "private" security cameras I wanted to share a thought but it’s a bit off-topic for that thread.

One of the issues brought up in the thread was that mapping surveillance cameras can be in the public interest if they are aimed at public spaces.

In my country, private security cameras must not capture public spaces (e.g. the street in front of your house) because that would violate the privacy of people in that public space.

Therefore, assuming OSM had exhaustive mapping of security cameras and their estimated area of coverage, law enforcement could use OSM to run automatic analyses about whom to pay a visit to check their security cameras.

Now many of you will say, that’s great, let those privacy-violating surveillance creeps get what they deserve!

But, with ever more detailed mapping, are we perhaps starting to become an arm of the “surveillance state” ourselves?

If someone has a swimming pool in their garden and doesn’t pay taxes for it (reportedly there are countries with swimming pool taxes!) - authorities can simply check OSM-recorded swimming pools against the taxpayer database and pay the swimming pool owner a visit.

If a small restaurant has put up a few chairs out on the pavement without having applied for the proper license - nobody would care normally, but thanks to OSM someone in the city administration can simply check for all places where we have recorded outdoor seating, and tell them to stop.

Yes, we only record what is visible anyway, but my point is, the guy in the city administration won’t send people round to check because it is too much effort. A lot of things happen in everyday life that are not “legal” but nobody cares, and there’s a certain freedom in that. (Do you even know how often you have crossed a traffic light on red, as a pedestrian?) Are we, with our ever more detailed recording of publicly visible things, perhaps engaged in something akin to “surveillance” ourselves? Are we, in working on our free and open map, reducing freedom for others?

And yes, I am talking of “freedom to violate the law” - if only in a small way. If your reply to this is “then simply don’t violate the law, you’ll have nothing to fear” then you have obviously not watched enough dystopian sci-fi :wink:

I am aware that this is a somewhat philosophical topic. What are your thoughts? Have you been in a situation where you refrained from mapping something, to avoid getting people into trouble?

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