Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bulletin: 'Legalswipe': Can innovative computer technology - a new legal rights app - protect the public from police harrassment in Canada and the USA?

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In Toronto there has been a strong outcry against  an offensive, discriminatory police practice called  'carding' -in which mainly  black people and people with brown skin who are not suspected of any crime  are randomly stopped, questioned and documented. Other police forces in Ontario use 'carding' - purportedly as an 'investigatory' tool as well. Toronto Mayor  John Tory initially came out strongly for abolition but appears to be wavering in the face of pressure from the police establishment.The Ontario government is also wavering under police pressure. It has asked for a couple of months  to study the issue.  So it's not surprising to see the launching today of a crowdfunding campaign for expansion of  "Legalswipe" - an app, described by its creators as, "social innovation designed to counteract policies such as carding in Canada and stop-and-frisk in the United States, which often result in the arbitrary detention of civilians." Today's release, at the link below,  says that currently users can film and upload an encounter with the police to a Dropbox account as it happens, while also receiving situation-specific legal advice and alerting emergency contacts.The innovations permitted by expansion will include support for French and Spanish, a lawyer review service and coverage of  international law beyond Canada and the United States; A launching event was addressed by Desmond Cole, a writer whose troubling account of over 50 police encounters was the cover story for the May 2015 issue of Toronto Life. Idil Burale, a community activist and Associate for the MaRS Solutions Lab, and Omar-Ha Redeye, a lawyer and professor at Ryerson University are also connected with the project. The release indicates that Legalswipe covers the law in both Canada and the United States and is situational: it provides legal rights information depending on the type of encounter, and provides users with the exact words to use. The app also sends a personalized, geotagged message to emergency contacts.  Its developer, Christien Levien, a recent law school graduate,  says: "“I am from a community where many people have first-hand experience with police assault and brutality. I was fortunate to have received a legal education and can now use my platform and experience to advocate for those who lack the resources to defend themselves.” says Levien.
The release can be found at: 
To help support Legalswipe, please visit: