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United States Technology

FBI to Put Criminals Up in Lights 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the billboard-busted dept.
coondoggie writes "The FBI today said it wants to install 150 digital billboards in 20 major U.S. cities in the next few weeks to show fugitive mug shots, missing people and high-priority security messages from the big bureau. The billboards will let the FBI highlight those people it is looking for the most: violent criminals, kidnap victims, missing kids, bank robbers, even terrorists, the FBI said in a release. And the billboards will be able to be updated largely in real-time — right after a crime is committed, a child is taken, or an attack is launched. Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami will be among those cities provided with the new billboards."
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FBI to Put Criminals Up in Lights

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  • Free publicity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by five18pm (763804) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @07:55AM (#21828648)
    Now how many want to bet that some idiot will commit a crime just to get on the billboard?
    • Re:Free publicity? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kierthos (225954) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @07:59AM (#21828676) Homepage
      That would, I think, require even more stupidity then normal, considering the number of ways one could achieve a similar level of publicity without the risk of going to jail for a great many years.

      Now, how long before someone hacks a billboard to show the President's face... that should be the question asked.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by foobsr (693224)
        require even more stupidity then normal

        You did not yet realize everything is about growth?

        CC.
    • by Lars T. (470328)

      Now how many want to bet that some idiot will commit a crime just to get on the billboard?
      How about hacking the billboard ;-)
      • How about hacking the billboard ;-)
        That's a Billboardin.
    • Just imagine when the porn traders see this advertising opportunity. It will make the hacking of text signs [spacing.ca] look tame.

      On the other hand, coming up to election time a "wanted for crimes against humanity" [motherearth.org] hack could go down well.
    • by ms1234 (211056)
      And who would hide in a major city with a billboard? Just hide in some other smaller but not small enough city.
    • by Z00L00K (682162)
      And how long until someone hacks the billboards and posts a picture of someone and a text "Wanted child molester".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2007 @07:55AM (#21828650)
    I really don't mind this idea as long as they use existing billboard space.

  • Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2007 @07:55AM (#21828656)
    Can we do a daily minute of hate as well?
    • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:28AM (#21828830)
      Remember how we scoffed that politicians just don't "get" computers? I think they understand now. We'll soon wish they had remained ignorant.
      • by arivanov (12034)
        Exactly. Running man and 1984 come to mind more frequently than ever.
      • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sigma 7 (266129) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @09:25AM (#21829206)

        Remember how we scoffed that politicians just don't "get" computers? I think they understand now. We'll soon wish they had remained ignorant.
        Remaining ignorant means:
        - Jack Thompson [wikipedia.org] can disable a primary use of computers - video games. While technically useless, these were able to make computers as powerful as they were today. Furthermore, they give access to a wider variety of games should they be in a position of not liking this one [gamespot.com].
        - People such as Kevin Mitnick [wikipedia.org] get treated much more severely for computer crime than they should be. Granted, there's a lot of work for ensuring that your systems are secure once again, but some damages were inflated and inconsistently reported (i.e. damages ranging in the millions were allegedly reported to the FBI but not shareholders.)
        - Various politicians can do fear mongering, such as claiming a kid interested in computers is going to be a future basement hacker that could launch nuclear missiles. Even if they can't directly act against those children, they could easily turn their peers against them with this propaganda.
        - And finally, you'd have civilians driving loudspeaker vans saying things similar to "It looks like you're writing a letter". This would usually appear before elections (and IIRC, there were a few personal accounts of this still occurring in Japan.)

        Since computers are now more mainstream, people can more easily recognize BS - at least that's the theory anyway. The average person won't easily believe that computers can easily explode (but remain gullible enough to believe pressing ALT-F4 activates an IRC exploit), and computer experts will more easily lock onto incorrect statements that they've seen before.
        • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by that this is not und (1026860) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @10:54AM (#21829948)
          Much as it might disturb some to acknowledge it, Mitnick was found guilty of outright fraud. That he happened to use computers to steal people's credit card money is somewhat incidental. He was caught and convicted and is in no way a hero figure. Ethical hackers will keep him at arms length, because... well, he was just another swindler.

          And now he's just a has-been trying to cash in on his name. Oh well.

        • And finally, you'd have civilians driving loudspeaker vans saying things similar to "It looks like you're writing a letter".
          Would you like help?

          Sorry, couldn't resist. But I'm curious if you were trying to draw a Clippy comparison to civilian loudspeaker vans. If so, I'm not sure I'm getting your point.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Sure we'll serve freedom fries to the people at that time as well.

      Minute of hate schedule for this week:

      Monday: Muslims - goulash and eggplant to be served
      Tuesday: Christmas Hate suspended Cafeteria closed
      Wednesday: Irish - Pizza and walking tacos to be served
      Thursday: Albanians - American Burgers and Freedom fries to be served
      Friday: Shao-lin Monks - ala Carte with salad bar served today.

      and suggestions for the national minute of hate need to be sent to the Czar of thought.
    • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kalirion (728907) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @09:49AM (#21829412)
      Is this a gutshot reaction or something? Seriously, I don't see what the problem with this is. They're not planning to put up pictures of recently released criminals. They're not planning to put up pictures of sex offenders in your neighborhood. They're not planning to put up pictures telling you to vote Republican. This is to be used same way as America's Most Wanted and backs of milk cartons. At least for now. If that changes, then start complaining.

      They just have to make sure they display a context label with each photo. Wouldn't want a kidnap victim to be confused for a terrorist.
      • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eck011219 (851729) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @10:30AM (#21829712)
        The only potential problem I see is that if they can put something up moments after a crime is committed, sooner or later you're going to end up with surveillance video of some poor slob who walked in or out of Wal-Mart right before or after an actual child molester did. Whether this will happen more or less than other forms of false accusation, we won't know until they do it.

        That's really the problem with speed and ease of use -- it's much easier to accidentally put the wrong face on a digital billboard than it is to put the wrong face on the back of a milk carton or on a poster or flier. The latter takes time and has several stages at which errors can be caught. Whether this problem is worth foregoing the advantages of it, I don't know. Probably not.

        Around here (Chicago area) we've had message boards over the highways for years -- they give traffic times, alternate routes, and occasionally are used for Amber Alerts (descriptions of cars or people suspected of child abduction). So the same concept, albeit in a non-graphic form, has been used with great success for some time. They got a kid back from a bad guy just recently using this technique. But I will say that I idly worry that I (big hairy stranger-danger-lookin' guy) in our very common (Honda Accord) car with my daughter in the back will someday experience the harsh hand of the law of averages. I guess I'd still rather have to deal with straightening out that type of confusion once in my life if it means that more actual bad guys get caught.

        Oh, and another problem is aesthetic -- the world will rapidly become a lit-up, post-apocalyptic place full of advertising and scrolling messages from the authorities. But that's kind of a matter of taste -- I think they amount of visual noise we live with is already numbing. Add more and it further reduces the impact of any given piece of it.
      • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @11:14AM (#21830162) Journal

        Seriously, I don't see what the problem with this is. They're not planning to put up pictures of recently released criminals.
        Yet.

        They're not planning to put up pictures of sex offenders in your neighborhood.
        Yet.

        They're not planning to put up pictures telling you to vote Republican.
        No, it's more subtle than that. Just as "terror alert" levels were used politically, so will these billboards. Make the people scared, and they'll vote for the party of perceived protection.

        If that changes, then start complaining
        Incremental change is hard to object to. Slippery slope and all that.

        I think the OP makes a humorous, but very valid, point. Our world more and more resembles the dystopias written about several decades ago, and pointing that out might help more people consider whether they really want to support that kind of society.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blincoln (592401)
        They're not yet planning to put up pictures of recently released criminals. They're not yet planning to put up pictures of sex offenders in your neighborhood.

        There, fixed that for you. Of course, I am only joking. When did any government ever introduce a fairly useful technology on a limited basis only to dramatically broaden the scope over time until it was used oppressively?
      • There is no problem with this, people just like to make cheesy comparisons to 1984. You are absolutely correct in each of your points - just because something has the potential for harm doesn't mean it shouldn't be used. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it's used properly.

        But please stop being rational. I must insist you immediately bash this by waving your hands about and mumbling vague comparisons to 1984 and/or some other book about a dystopian future. Also, if possible, rouse some rabble by me

      • I'm none too happy with the powers given the the FBI, and I don't intend to help them out. Just feeling a little bitter about the government not holding up their side of the 'social contract'.
      • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Original Replica (908688) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @12:19PM (#21830852) Journal
        Seriously, I don't see what the problem with this is.

        The problem is fear mongering. It immediately puts the populace in a state of mind that is submissive to the leadership. People drop into a us vs.them mindset. [issues-views.com] Criminals (or anyone accused of being a criminal) stop being thought of as real people, they simply become them. Anyone questioning the leadership must be siding with the rapists and murderers. There is already a growing divide between the common people and the government's agents (Homeland security and the police). No one feels safer when a cop is looking at them, regardless of if you have done anything wrong. The police are more and more inclined to treat citizens as "the enemy" [cnn.com] The only way that the mass population will put up with these conditions is when they believe that it is necessary because they government is protecting us for a much greater evil.

        This is a game already played with the terrorists, but that's getting really expensive, and the military is stretched too thin. The government needs to bring the boogeyman home.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        This is to be used same way as America's Most Wanted and backs of milk cartons.

        Which are already tools of fear-mongering. You've just internalized the fear so much that you don't realize it. Every day for breakfast, parents wake up to a dose of fear from those milk cartons - that kid on the back of the milk carton could be THEIRS if they aren't fearful enough! Every day for breakfast, kids wake up to a dose of fear - that kid on the back of the milk carton could be THEM if they aren't fearful enough!

        What they aren't told is that parental kidnapping is by far the most common form o

  • Cool! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Digital billboards? By the FBI?

    Living in the future is so cool!
    • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @10:23AM (#21829646) Journal
      As I have, er, ahem, met some interesting people [slashdot.org] here in Springfield (although I haven't met Alderman Simpson) [illinoistimes.com], there's something I know about these "wanted" lists most people dont.

      Many of these criminals are low level petty thugs, thieves, and especially dopers. I've mentioned my friend Tami in my slashdot journals, here's a true (AFAIK, I have no reason to doubt her) and I think hilarious story she told me.

      Tami's been in jail before, but she's not what anyone would think of as a "hardened criminal" and in fact comes from a well to do family with political connections that has (sucks to be me) pretty much given up on her.

      One time she'd had some sort of run-in with the law; "failure to appear" for a speeding ticket or pot or some such nonsense and didn't even know she was wanted. She got tickets to some shindig some friend of her father's was throwing and showed up. The affair had to do with these "top twenty wanted in Sangamon County" lists.

      She showed up for the free food and alcohol (Tami's no beanpole and likes to drink) and of course most of the people there were from law enforcement. There was one of the top-20 wanted posters prominently displayed, and she was on it!

      "Boy, I got the hell out of there real quick!" she told me.

      Living in the future is so cool!

      Then this [slashdot.org] might interest you.

      -mcgrew
    • This will make for a really cool scene in some upcoming Hollywood movie: Good guy is wanted by the gov't for questioning authority, they make up stuff about him and now he can't go anywhere because everywhere he goes he sees pictures of himself and those lies that the FBI made up about him.
  • by wolfpaws (112843) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:01AM (#21828684)
    The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!
    • That was my first thought as well... Images of Blade Runner and assorted novels by PKD... Countless scenes from sci-fi movies where the protagonist offends someone and suddenly their face is plastered across every vertical surface in the city.

      I'm not quite sure why, but this bothers me quite a bit more than all the stories I've seen about pervasive surveillance.
  • Its bound to work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Instine (963303) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:02AM (#21828688)
    Because fame is such a big deterrent. Especially in the States
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Because fame is such a big deterrent. Especially in the States
      Because jail is such a big deterrent. Especially in the States.

      I don't think attention whores are going to turn criminal just to get their face on a billboard. As for those that are criminals and attention whores, they were going to act out anyways.
  • What If ...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aaron_Pike (528044) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:03AM (#21828692) Homepage
    I saw a spot about this on some news TV program. Every single alleged criminal they showed on a billboard was either black or Hispanic. Now I'm not saying this isn't a good idea, and I'm not saying that it's a deliberate white-supremacist plot. But what are the consequences if this sampling is representative of the wanted postings in general? What happens when people see minorities on wanted postings over and over?
    • Re:What If ...? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Elemenope (905108) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:11AM (#21828728)

      What happens when people see minorities on wanted postings over and over?

      I imagine the consequences will be about the same as those for minorities being oversampled as criminal suspects on the nightly TV news...people will unreasonably fear black and Hispanic males, and racial stereotypes will be carried forward in the national subconscious. COPS made the young black man the national face of crime; it needs no "white supremacist plot" to reinforce in the minds of people that different is bad and scary.

      • Re:What If ...? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DavidShor (928926) <`supergeek717' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:51AM (#21828992) Homepage
        "COPS made the young black man the national face of crime; it needs no "white supremacist plot" to reinforce in the minds of people that different is bad and scary."

        I don't dispute that COPS was heavily distorted, but is there any evidence that the show really had any effect on racial perception? As a result of structural historical and economic reasons, black people make up the overwhelming majority of criminals in certain urban areas.

        I would imagine the perception was already there because of this.

        • by DeadChobi (740395)
          It's a feedback system. We learn to fear Black people more and as a result are less likely to trust them as another person. They learn that crime is how everyone else survives. They commit crimes based on this idea. We see them on COPS and learn to fear black people as a result.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DM9290 (797337)
          "As a result of structural historical and economic reasons, black people make up the overwhelming majority of criminals in certain urban areas."

          if you define "certain urban areas" with enough specificity, then you can demonstrate that any kind of person you want makes up the overwhelming majority of criminals.
      • Re:What If ...? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Henry V .009 (518000) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @09:27AM (#21829218) Journal
        It might help if young black men stopped committing crime at 10x the national average. I'm just saying. (Don't worry, most of it is black on black, which is also why blacks are so much more likely to get murdered themselves. Unless that's "oversampling" too?)

        I am somewhat curious as to what part of the country you live in to believe that minorities are "oversampled as criminal suspects on the nightly TV news." I take it that you've never come across the results of the FBI victim surveys?

        Good god, but some people really let the rose tint fog up their glasses.
        • >It might help if young black men stopped committing crime at 10x the national average.
          >I'm just saying. (Don't worry, most of it is black on black, which is also why blacks are so
          >much more likely to get murdered themselves. Unless that's "oversampling" too?)

          The million-dollar-question is, "Why do young black men commit crimes at 10x the national average?"

          The answer is obvious, and backed up by your observation that most of the crime is black on black.

          I'll give you a hint: It doesn't have anythin
      • My girlfriend is black and she is generally concerned about crossing paths with young black males on city streets where there aren't lots of people. Hence she avoids its.

        The problem we face here in America is that its offensive to too many people to declare a problem a problem if it identifies a minority group. Look at all the crap we are going through with illegal immigrants! People breaking the law to get here yet if we apply the label and are not part of that specific minority group you can be labled
    • But what are the consequences if this sampling is representative of the wanted postings in general? What happens when people see minorities on wanted postings over and over?

      Don't worry, it'll never happen. It's New York. If there were, say, 100 criminals who were eligible for the billboard treatment, and 97 of them were Black or Hispanic, the politically correct NYPD billboard-masters would put the mugs of the 3 white guys up in lights.

      If the billboards were being run by the same cops whose fists are wrap
  • Slander (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:03AM (#21828694) Homepage
    This is slander of the highest degree. These are people _accused_ of crimes, not guilty criminals. The damage to one's reputation will be near-irrepairable. I cannot believe that they are seriously considering this system.
    • Re:Slander (Score:5, Informative)

      by alen (225700) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:10AM (#21828726)
      no, these are people who are wanted for a crime so they can face trial who refuse to turn themselves in and be tried in front of a jury. same thing as the wanted posters in the post office
      • Re:Slander (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:31AM (#21828850) Journal

        no, these are people who are wanted for a crime so they can face trial who refuse to turn themselves in and be tried in front of a jury. same thing as the wanted posters in the post office
        Just wait for the first amber alert put out with the description of a generic black/hispanic male because (as an example) some white woman killed her kid(s) but enjoys the attention from claiming they were kidnapped instead.

        The fallout from that should be a riot.
        • So let me get this straight. Rather than embarass a potential child murdered/rapist, the police should limit their publicity of the presemed perp (who would be "on the run" if this were done) just in case it's a 1/1000 instance where some evil white woman is perpetrating a fraud? I say we go a step further and just lock up all the evil white women pre-emptively.
          • As long as you only know that he/she is just a potential child murderer/rapist, of course he/she should be preserved. Are you seriously saying otherwise?! Remember that you are a potential child murderer...

            • What is this, solipsism 101? There's a difference between "wanted, based on concrete evidence, of child murder" and "gee, anyone has some dark part of them capable of terrible things". What kind of retarded logic would have us not arrest/pursue someone suspected of a crime based on their presumption of innocence? You have a right to due process, due process presumes you report for trial. If you don't, then of course you must be tracked down. If that's "embarassing", tough shit.
              • What has solipsism got to do with anything? Anyhow...

                Remember we are talking about a country which has been at war for years now after invading a country based on ``concrete evidence'', which was bought by essentially the whole country (and pretty much no one else outside of that country's border)

                It is of course reasonable to pursue people based on evidence, but posting the picture of someone for everyone to see because ``he is a child molester'' in order to aprehend him, only maybe to find later that he

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by OgreChow (206018)
      I see your point, but we've never had any principled outcry against wanted posters in the post office. And "America's Most Wanted" has been on TV for years.

      They could do some terrible damage by showing both the suspect and his offense on these billboards. How long do you think an accused kiddie rapist would last under those conditions?
      • Re:Slander (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dotancohen (1015143) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:25AM (#21828814) Homepage
        Key word: accused. In 2004, I had a rifle pointed at me and complained to the police. Result: The offender claimed that _I_ threatened _him_ with my weapon. I was accused for a crime I did not commit. After a year-long trial, I was aquitted. In January 2007, I was attacked in my own car. I beat the living shit out of the attacker and he thus claimed that _I_ attacked him. I had no physical damage worth reporting, so now _I_ face charges. There is a big difference between being accused of a crime, and actually committing one.
    • I'm sure that if they're ever wrong, and put the wrong guy up on the billboard, they'll put up a correction later so the guy can clear his name in the public eye.

      I'm sure of it.

      Yeah.

    • Libel, maybe. Unless they have giant speakers under the billboard.
    • by russotto (537200)

      This is slander of the highest degree. These are people _accused_ of crimes, not guilty criminals. The damage to one's reputation will be near-irrepairable. I cannot believe that they are seriously considering this system.

      While the system has its bad points, the damage won't be irreparable at all. Very few are going to remember someone else's face on a wanted poster or billboard in 6 months, even fewer will be confident enough of that memory to match it with the real person in front of them after that time.

  • Is it me or is the future starting to look more and more like the Running Man?

    I guess the next thing we need is to make criminals get punished on TV game shows like The Price is Right, Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. Or maybe force them to be watch those programs, that is probably worse...

  • No Boston? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:05AM (#21828700)
    I'm glad they're not setting them up in Boston, otherwise idiots might yet-again confuse LED's for bombs.
  • by Mishra100 (841814) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:06AM (#21828704)
    Maybe they should spend some money on advertisement space on the internet. That way the notices could be on just about every web page that is ad supported. They could get more efficient advertisement due to the web being more detailed that billboards.

    I think I could spot my brother in a website ad if he were posted on it.

    Another good thing about this is that the wanted photos would be displayed when any store employee is surfing the internet. They would see the photo and maybe spot someone in the store at that time. Those people aren't going to remember the picture of the billboard they drove by on the way to work.
  • How do I know? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tsotha (720379) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:07AM (#21828708)
    This kinds of schemes always remind me of the old Ahnold movie The Running Man. I understand there are lots of bad people out there... but, thing is, it takes a certain amount of trust for me to believe the guy on the billboard really is a murderer/child molester. Somebody I don't know is trying to enlist me in the search for someone else I don't know. It makes me a little uncomfortable.
    • Than your comfort level must be extremely low as my guess is you know scant few in law enforcement, much less those who create wanted posters and alerts.
  • So when do these billboards start displaying the latest IngSoc?

    Oops, wrong country. The US is far too smart for doublethink!
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      If you're going to make 1984 jokes, you gotta at least read the book first.

      "when do these billboards start displaying the latest English Socialism?"

      That doesn't even slightly make sense.
  • Let me be the first to welcome our informantively illuminated overlords. My love for them is as big as for a brother.
  • by DeeQ (1194763) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:13AM (#21828732)
    This was on CNN a good time ago. They were all happy because they caught some guy that turned himself in after seeing one of those build boards. There are many problems with these things. How long till people start acting in vigilantly ways? You couldn't put what they are wanted for without getting someone angry or violent. However if you didn't put up what they were wanted for people (especially in USA) would over act. Sure its neat but how long till someone who is actually not wanted for something ends up on one? If I wanted to see who was wanted for crimes I would go to the post office. However, If these things were only used for missing people I don't see the harm in them and welcome them fully.
    • There is little difference between this and a wanted poster in the post office or a segment in America's Most Wanted.
  • Aren't there more than a 150 members of Congress? Or are they just sticking with Senators?
  • Device Specs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coldcell (714061)
    They're using these [cisco.com], and yes, they DO run Linux.
  • What a GREAT idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by puppetluva (46903) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:17AM (#21828760)

    This is a really good idea!

    I think it will be useful for:

    • Getting sensationalism out of the newsroom and into advertising where it belongs. (and eliminating any sense of personal or editorial responsibility when smearing someone's reputation).
    • Helping the government to use private billboard companies to irresponsibly violate the privacy of private citizens. Shifting the power once and for all away from non-profit-generating people.
    • Hyping crimes out of proportion to their real risk to society and keeping the people quaking in their boots (and consuming).
    • Finally getting rid of that pesky "innocent until proven guilty clause"
    • Punishing people who didn't give enough in campaign contributions to the party in power
    • Allowing us to effectively bundle advertising, racism, and fear (maybe even in one billboard!). Imagine how many security systems, bank accounts, insurance policies, guns and KKK memberships we could sell in bundled ad campaigns!
    • Making us look really modern. . .pushing us from the 21st centry to 1984

    I can't wait until these images can be broadcast directly into the skies above our houses. I have long thought that we don't mistrust and/or hate our fellow citizens enough in the USA. I was worried that we might drop our murder rates and/or school shootings to the levels of other countries, but it looks like we are well on our way to whipping our citizenry to new heights of paranoia and aggressiveness.

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Getting sensationalism out of the newsroom and into advertising where it belongs. (and eliminating any sense of personal or editorial responsibility when smearing someone's reputation).

      No responsibility? You think the FBI is just going to randomly pick somebody, get a picture and biographical details about them and flash it up on a billboard? If you're on this thing it's because you're a material witness to a crime or a suspect likely with enough evidence that they're going to arrest you when they find

      • Getting sensationalism out of the newsroom and into advertising where it belongs. (and eliminating any sense of personal or editorial responsibility when smearing someone's reputation).

        No responsibility? You think the FBI is just going to randomly pick somebody, get a picture and biographical details about them and flash it up on a billboard? If you're on this thing it's because you're a material witness to a crime or a suspect likely with enough evidence that they're going to arrest you when they find you. They're not going to use this for petty things if for no other reason than to avoid making the public stop caring what the billboards say. In fact I would be willing to bet substantial sums of money that the people they featured will be fugitives believed to be in the area--people who were either already convicted or who have warrants out for their arrest to begin with.

        While I know different groups of people are involved, you surely give the government which embarked itself in a war under false pretenses and with absolutely no responsability so far, a lot of credit!

      • Amen, brother. Amen. God the retarded reponse this article is getting truly annoys the piss out of me. "Oooh, but...but...1984! And.... Racism!". That pretty much sums it up. They don't really have any real point, just random comparisons to 1984.
    • by DannyO152 (544940)
      I was going to post a joke about criminals move to 21st US city, but your above made me think of something. Money from government to the billboard companies. I just looked it up: it's a deal with Clear Channel. If my cynicism weren't on the holidays, I'd call this little thank you bundle from Bush's DOJ to the guys who organize pro-war rallies and blacklist artists who critique our Texan leader.
    • Pander much? I think you, like many of the other paranoid posters in this thread, have seen too many movies and have some romanticized notion of there being this "big brother" out to get you.

      The person's reputation is "smeared" when the government starts looking for them. Claims of slander or libel are laughable. Government posts picture of person. "We want this person". Person sues. Government says "We truly did want this person", shows warrant - case dismissed.

      Private citizens with a warrant for

  • by sam_handelman (519767) <skh2003@@@columbia...edu> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:24AM (#21828808) Homepage Journal
    This is a much-belated step in the right direction - it would have been an excellent policy move 20 or 30 *years* ago, when giant billboards to facilitiate the 3 minutes hate, or to flash "OBEY" in subliminal letters, were state of the art.

      But this is the 21st century - we can implant chips in people's brains now! We can contract out the manufacture of wireless control collars to the lowest bidder!

      The government deiberately squelches these technologies to pander to the minority of religious nuts who have disproportional influence over our government.

      That's why I support Ron Paul and the transumanist dystopian party - deregulation and the ability to sell advertizers direct access to our subconscious will enable us to achieve the economic benefits of a nihilistic hellscape.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      But Ron Paul uses relegion to vote against womens rights? Voting for him will not help at all.

      He's just a candidate for people afraid to change to democrat.

      The number one way to send a message that you are unhappy with the way this administration has been behaving is to vote democrat.

      An overwhelming victory for democrats will send a message to both parties telling them were not happy with this kind of crap, and it punishes the party that has been doing it.

      If republicans win, then they will "Stay the course"
  • Big brother is watching. And he loves you!
  • How long until some kidnap victim gets lynched by somebody who saw him on the billboard and thought he was the kidnapper?
    • How long until a kidnap victim is seen in public but isn't recognized as a kidnap victim and ends up in a shallow grave?

      Oh, wait!...
  • I'm of mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, I'm all for ways to help spread information and help make things safer. OTOH, I'm fortunate to now be living in one of 4 states in the USA which ban billboards [mainetoday.com]. (The four states are: Maine, Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii.)

    It was hard to fathom just how "noisy" every place else was until I experienced it first hand. I've lived and traveled in other places where billboards were seemingly everywhere. (e.g. NYC, Boston, San Jose) A trip down any major road, esp

  • These days billboards are ignored by so many anyway, i don't really see this as an effective use of funds. we are bombarded by so much nonsense now, this will just fade into the background.
  • They want their bulletin board back.

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:53AM (#21829010) Homepage Journal
    I can hardly wait for these to be subverted into showing Future Conan [ytmnd.com] or old "Get Smart" episodes or something.
  • Nobody will even try to hack in to put up pics of "W" or the dick...

    • Or goatse rush hour traffic. ROFL! Here's an eye full for all of you stuck out in traffic this am.

  • by tjstork (137384)
    The thought of giant billboards showing enemies of the state, and the public acceptance thereof, is just appalling. People wanted by the FBI for a crime have not been proven guilty in a court of law, and so for the government to broadcast that these people are guilty is an undo usurpation of police powers over the jury system.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      Well said. Please fax that to all the representatives. It's also worth noting that things like these appeal to a very vocal minority, so once theyar there, no politician is going to get rid of them, so they will always be an expense on out budget.
    • Guh? So wait. A man is seen by 3 people going into a liquor store and murdering the clerk and kidnapping a patron. The government should be worried about his privacy over the life of the kidnap victim? Or let's say he didn't kidnap, let's say he walked in and just killed a bunch of people then fled across state lines. His privacy is more important than the potential future victims'?

      Also, I've shit things more subtle than your "enemies of the state" implication. Seriously, almost any government power

  • Can't... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spleen_blender (949762) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @10:22AM (#21829632)
    Can't the money be spent on finding reasons WHY the crimes are caused in the first place?

    Oh I'm sorry, apparently asking "why" somehow rationalizes their actions, just like why we can't talk about the reasons WHY terrorists want to kill us.

    The question "why" is so dangerous to people in this country for one single reason: religion. Yeah, mod me down offtopic or troll, or something else... but you know it is true. When people seriously start asking "why" about everything around them they will inevitably realize that religion is a joke. I guess people have too much pride to be able to look at their past selves and laugh at their stupid beliefs. Yes I just called your beliefs stupid, now ask yourself "why does he say that" instead of accusing me of persecuting you.
  • As if there was not enough already and americans these days are not fearful enough. Bring it on! Even more people afaraid of risks, that do not really apply to them or are incredible small! Makes controlling the sheepified masses even easier.

    Seriosuly, this is a very bad idea and a public disturbance. Hiwever has had this idea is both stupid and has a hugely inflated ego.
  • by karlwilson (1124799) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @10:48AM (#21829888)
    Something about billboards with wanted criminal pictures that update in real time reminds me of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Minority Report all rolled into one...

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