📹 Why a random tech exec is installing cameras throughout SF -- and potentially every city in the future

An exorbitantly wealthy cryptocurrency investor has been installing $4 million worth of surveillance cameras all over San Francisco. And strangely enough, according to the New York Times, people like it.

  • The mogul’s name is Chris Larsen: He founded the blockchain startup Ripple. And he sees the cameras as a new way to provide security in urban landscapes.

  • Normally, security cameras are associated with law enforcement: But Larsen pitches his cameras for an opposite reason. He says they will help average citizens to spy on law enforcement and catch potential bad behavior. Rather than being monitored by police, the cameras are monitored by citizens, through a company called Private Video Solutions.  

  • Proponents of Larsen’s program have a motto: According to the NYT, they say they’re getting “a surveillance state without the state.”

There are some legal quandaries here 

But not in the installation. Larsen is helping people and neighborhood groups do what any individual property owner can do: install a camera. His network of cameras is no different than any person’s front door Ring. San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, supports the program. 

  • But legal concerns come into play with the footage. SF police, for instance, are barred from using facial recognition technology, but that ban doesn’t apply to civilians. Larsen has said facial recognition will not be allowed. 

The Verdict

Larsen wants to take his camera installation program across the country. He believes continuous video feeds all over a neighborhood is always better than a single Ring.