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Smartphone vigilantes ride in Huntington Beach

Computer HardwareNational Security AgencyFBI

Seems that Nostradamus has nothing on me.

On Monday, musing about the weekend mayhem in Huntington Beach after the U.S. Open of Surfing, I peered into my crystal ball and proposed a high-tech solution to such violence: the Breathe Into the Phone to Prove You're Sober app.

And like the ancient sage, it turns out I was right -- kind of. There is a high-tech solution, but it’s staring us right in the face (or ear): the smartphone.

Here’s an interesting fact about modern life: When people today act badly, other people take their pictures. And they share those pictures. With their friends. And, because nothing is private anymore (see Manning, Bradley, and Snowden, Edward), with law enforcement.

So, the big guy who threw a stop sign through the window of a bike shop in Huntington Beach on Sunday, then did a victory celebration? He got his picture taken (see above). And that picture has gone viral. On Facebook. And elsewhere.

And now his “friends,” the police, would like to have a chat with Mr. Photogenic.

I suppose this is a good thing. No, wait. In this case, it is a good thing. When busting up businesses is your idea of fun, you need a serious attitude adjustment, and the legal system can certainly provide that.

But vigilantism by smartphone? That might not be so smart, or safe. After all, when those up to no good realize that photos are being taken -- well, remember the scene in “The Godfather” when Sonny objects to the FBI taking pictures at his sister’s wedding?

Only in real life, it might not just be the camera that gets assaulted.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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