Big Brother L.A.


iWatch sounds like a sleek new timepiece designed by Apple, but it's actually a campaign, launched nationwide in October, urging citizens to report each other's suspicious activities. Former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and city police Commander Joan McNamara have teamed up to bring mutual surveillance to 63 cities across North America in what Bratton calls "the 21st-century version of neighborhood watch."

What sorts of suspicious behavior are you supposed to report to the iWatch websites? The program mentions people drawing buildings, wearing clothes that are too big, or otherwise engaging in activities that, in the words of the American Civil Liberties Union, "could be innocuous." In Los Angeles, a viral video of actors playing concerned citizens focuses on discouraging critical thinking: Instead of recommending careful consideration of a potential danger, a chubby nerd in the online video urges you to "let law enforcement determine if it's a threat," while a skinny, sensitive guy insists that we "let the experts decide."