from the selling-fear,-buying-pipe-dreams dept
Williams Lake, British Columbia apparently has a bit of a crime problem. According to CTV News, it consistently ranks towards the top end of the violent crime charts for communities of its size. Early last week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a video of a man pulling a gun on a Williams Lake resident and stealing his bike.
The city council has now sprung into action. It has a solution -- one that has received unanimous support from council members. It's a dystopian sci-fi solution with the emphasis on the "fi" part.
Williams Lake city council voted unanimously on Tuesday on a proposal to inject high-risk offenders with a GPS tracking device.The use of monitoring devices to track the movement of "high-risk" criminals is nothing new. Here in the US, ankle bracelets are used to track parolees and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- somewhat in opposition of a 2015 Supreme Court ruling -- declared that lifetime monitoring of sex offenders is perfectly constitutional.
"Whether they’re walking downtown, whether they’re having a bath, whether they’re having dinner, we don’t care. We want to know where they are and what they’re doing," Williams Lake Coun. Scott Nelson, who introduced the motion, told CTV Vancouver.
Canada's constitutional requirements may be bit different, but there's nothing particularly unusual about monitoring the movements of recently-released felons. Lifetime monitoring may be asking a bit much, but the underlying concept is not new.
The problem with the Williams Lake Solution is that what the council wants it can't actually have… at least not at this point.
Despite Nelson and the rest of the Williams Lake council's hopes, the proposed technology doesn't appear to exist.So, never mind the constitutional questions. This tracking simply can't be done, at least not in the manner city officials unanimously believe it can. But fearful times call for fearful measures, as council member Scott Nelson so aptly -- and somewhat ironically -- explains:
Radio frequency implants, a type of microchips, have been implanted in pets but they only contain data, not the ability to provide a tracking ability.
Biohackers have recently been able to install microchips in humans, roughly the size of two grains of rice, but they only contain personal identification details.
The B.C. government says it's unaware of the technology desperately wanted by city officials.
"Prolific offenders are in every community across British Columbia, and the biggest problem we’ve got in Williams Lake is that they’re putting fear into people," Nelson said.Someone's definitely "putting fear into people" and I don't think it's just the criminals. Wanting to know where a person is at all times on the off chance that they might commit a crime is no way to solve this problem. There are numerous other approaches that should be explored before the city starts injecting tracking devices into people using guidelines developed by the same people who unanimously voted to utilize technology that doesn't exist.