Monday, September 20, 2004

Tag the Tags

The two largest political parties in the Netherlands have launched a plan to counter the proliferation of graffiti. Besides some great pieces, there is indeed a lot of pestilent ego-ejaculation in Amsterdam. However, parts of this 10 step plan resonate a dystopian future. But then this future comes January first, when national identification is introduced for everybody of 14 years an up. A measure on which the proposal is freeriding.

Some of the proposed steps:
  • Mobile camera surveillance will be used for quick actions to deter perpetrators and catch their images. Legal obstacles to make this possible will be cleared.
  • Information on graffiti, perpetrators, damage and criminal cases will be centrally collected and analysed to facilitate quicker and more effective investigation.
  • People will have to identify themselves when buying spraypaint cans, in order restrict the sale to 18 year olds and over.
The arrogant tone of this proposal -will be cleared, will be centrally collected, will have to identify- is irritating. But then, I can't imagine the legislator will have the will to push this through. Yes, lets just clear those legal obstacles and bring in the mobile surveillance. Central collection, of course, the evils of graffiti obviously justify these privacy trampling means. And let's be reasonable, since your kid of 12 can be asked for an ID (it sure looks a lot like a menacing 14 year old!), why not show your ID in a paint shop when you want spraypaint your car?
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Links: graffiti, proposal (Dutch only, not worth the read anyway). Anti-identification T-Shirt at Bits of Freedom, subtle as always. (Text Front: I am 13 Text Back: But I can't prove it...)


Blogger Maarten Overdijk said...

The problem regarding this issue, in my opinion, is not to arrest graffiti writers, but to get them convicted.
Graffiti is in most cases done by adolescents or even grown-ups, not by 14-16 year olds. Don’t get me wrong, age is not the issue here, but experience and the organisation behind a professional graffiti crew is.
Local authorities no exactly who to look for, and are generally well documented. The thing is, a dedicated writer just won’t confess, and evidence is hard to collect. The legislator underestimated this for years. Until recently, when it was decided to charge dedicated graffiti writers with membership of a criminal organisation. This has proven to be a more viable approach. Prolonged detention on remand, tapping of telephone lines and searching the homes of graffiti writers has led to a number of convictions in the last couple of years.

20/9/04 23:09  

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