Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Law_Territory 3_Cellular App

With the rise of technology, these days almost everyone has a mobile device, and often these are smart phones, like iPhones or Androids. The mobility of the devices, their "real-time" capabilities, and their easy access has allowed anyone to enact their own form of social justice outside the boundaries of national law.

The border between Mexico and the United States remains a contentious line, with the U.S. border control trying desperately to keep illegal immigrants out of the country. With America originally a country of immigrants, many citizens and residents of the U.S. remain unconvinced about the strict access of this nation by Latinos seeking opportunity.

For years, some people, called "coyotes," has assisted in smuggling immigrants over the border. Now a new trend is arising: that of the cyber-coyote. For a while now, many Mexicans and others in Latin Americans have considered a cell phone essential for their border-crossing missions as a way to keep family members updated of their progress. Now, the cell phone is become a key means to evading authorities. Cyber-coyotes are providing text message alerts with advice and real-time data of how to miss the border patrol and the best routes to take through the dicey area.

To take the issue to the next level, Ricardo Dominguez, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, is developing a mobile application to assist in border crossing. While usually illegal immigrants forward thousands of dollars to coyotes to assist them in accessing the U.S., the cyber-coyote has made the price much more affordable, considering that the person assisting remotely is not assuming nearly as much risk as before. The development of an app will even further reduce the cost of entering the country illegally, and reduce culpability of anyone assisting in their journey. Of course, the U.S. government has questioned the legality of this app, and Republican Congressmen have condemned the university for supporting a venture that would encourage illegal immigration.

Technology, in essence, acts as a way to combat the government system in place and equalize the power differential between the authority structure and the law offender.

Border Crossing? There's an app for that.

"Smugglers Guide Illegal Immigrants With Cues via Cellphone." The New York Times. May 9, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/us/09coyotes.html

1 comment:

  1. You state that the owner of a smart phone, by virtue of the device itself, has the ability to "enact their own form of social justice outside the boundaries of national law." I'm both intrigued and bothered by the ambiguity and exaggeration that this claim brings along with it. You also describe the disbalance occurring between authority and offender but your description also implicates information as the thing out of balance: the power lies with the party that holds the information, whether it's information to subvert the authority structure or information to catch offenders. How might this translate into architecture? Where is it in architecture that having or not having information creates an unbalanced situation?