The Guguniverse

Delayed law enforcement

A policewoman with a video camera chasing a criminal in a junkyard, in the style of Boticcelli

While many enjoyed broadcasting every second of their lives, others dreaded being unknowingly historized. And rightly so: cases of pedophiles, stalkers, and thieves using History became increasingly common. The media was obsessed, and not only out of a sense of duty to report on relevant happenings: they feared being displaced by it and becoming obsolete. They spared no occasion to attack, mock or criticize History while profiting from it. From newscasts to documentaries, to talk shows, History was everywhere. There was even a reality show that invited couples with a made-up excuse, then showed them historized clips of one cheating on the other. It included a lawyer on set, who had prepared the divorce papers for them to sign live. All of it was historized, of course.

But whether their fear of becoming extinct was well-founded or not, and beyond their war against The History Company, the risks were real and in everyone’s minds. Not by chance, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year was Histalker, a portmanteau of History and Stalker.

As fears grew, the idea of looking for crime using History – or, as protohistorians said, government histalking – grew too. The potential for law enforcement wasn’t hard to see: it could ease detective work, track down suspects, and even provide proof of their crimes, as long as judges were willing to accept replays as evidence in court.

Meanwhile, the History Company had been working with secret services for some time. The agencies installed computers in History’s data centers, black boxes that intercepted all internal network traffic and sent it back to their headquarters. The company was not told what they sent and why, but internal security experts assumed that they read, saw, and heard everything. The government kept this collaboration secret for ‘reasons of national security,’ with the unfortunate side effect that local law enforcement agencies could not use the information they gathered. From the perspective of the public, the government was doing nothing to protect them.

Some city governments bent under public pressure and ordered their police departments to use History for their detective work, even without a clear legal framework supporting them. Huge rooms full of outsourced workers started monitoring History for signs of crime 24/7, not unlike the operators looking for illegal material in social networks.

This placated mainstream public opinion at first. But small budgets limited the number of agents monitoring History, so many crimes went unseen. And even when they found one, resources were often insufficient to deal with it. That left them in the uncomfortable position of being unable to act on known crimes.

Public dissatisfaction grew again. Soon, groups of civilians organized private “crime searches” using History. In no time, citizen militias appeared in every major city to take crime-fighting into their own hands. Of course, this fired back at the History Company. To control the damage, they added a delay of twenty-four hours to replays. In other words, people had to wait a whole day to see what they had just historized. Only police forces and government agencies could replay History without delays. It helped, but again, just a little.

The Human Data Corporation denounced those delays as a direct attack on their content creation business, especially their recently launched tools for managing live audiences. After much negotiation, they reached an agreement: they would support the development of tools for automatic crime detection in exchange for excepting ‘certified’ History celebrities’ replays from the delay. Of course, certification was an expensive process, and it soon became an important income source for both companies.

While they waited for the development of those tools, police forces were still understaffed, and most historized crimes remained unpunished.