Imagining Perfect Surveillance

64 UCLA Law Review Discourse 264 (2016)

UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-44

29 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2016 Last revised: 6 Nov 2016

Richard M. Re

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: October 21, 2016

Abstract

How would society react to “the Watcher,” a technology capable of efficiently, unerringly, and immediately reporting the perpetrator of virtually every crime? This Essay treats that speculative question as an opportunity to explore the relationship between governmental surveillance and criminal justice. The resulting argument is unabashedly fictional but draws attention to pressures that may influence the real world. For instance, the Watcher casts doubt on perfect surveillance’s ability to improve the law, supports judicial attentiveness to substantive law when reviewing rules of investigation, and suggests that legislative control might displace prosecutorial discretion. The Watcher also draws attention to the relationship between surveillance and regulatory intricacy, as well as to ways of preserving human mercy within automated criminal justice.

Suggested Citation

Re, Richard M., Imagining Perfect Surveillance (October 21, 2016). 64 UCLA Law Review Discourse 264 (2016); UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2857234

Richard M. Re (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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