Being a snitch used to be considered cowardly and craven. Not anymore. There’s now an iPhone app that makes it easy for you to become a high-tech informant for Uncle Sam.
Citizen Concepts, a Florida-based software company, recently launched an application for the iPhone, dubbed the “PatriotApp.” The name for this app appears to be a play on the title of the 2001 legislation – the “USA PATRIOT Act” — that gave the government unprecedented and constitutionally troubling powers to combat terrorism and other federal crimes. In an apparent effort to boost awareness of the new tattletale app, its developers are making it available for free over Christmas.
In the brave, new post-911 world, it is now considered “patriotic” to snitch on your fellow citizens.
Citizen Concepts claims – apparently with a straight face — that the app is meant help citizens “assist government agencies in creating safer, cleaner, and more efficient communities via social networking and mobile technology.” Instead of reporting potential crimes the more responsible, old-fashioned way by dialing 911, if someone possessed of an iPhone now observes suspicious behavior or a potential national security threat, this “PatriotApp” allows them to report a tip with pictures or video through their iPhone to the FBI.
The app can be used to report not only “terrorist” threats, but all manner of white collar crimes, public health issues, and even workplace harassment and discrimination. Tattling has become high tech.
Not surprisingly, this smart-phone fear-mongering is being encouraged by the Department of Homeland Security, which recently partnered with Wal-Mart as part of the “If You See Something, Say Something” program. When customers check out at certain Wal-Mart stores, they will be treated to a video of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano – known also as “Big Sis” — telling them to report suspicious activity in or around the store to authorities.
There is a Constitution and Bill of Rights app for the iPhone, but no one is marketing an app that encourages the user to report abuses of civil liberties by the government. Obviously, doing something to help keep the government within constitutional bounds is not as “patriotic” as squealing on a fellow citizen.
-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code