Sidekik: An Attorney in Your Pocket?
Need a lawyer? Well soon, we may have an app for that.
Currently there’s a project on crowdfunding website Indiegogo called Sidekik. The idea of sidekik is based on the fact that many Americans have found themselves in situations where they are confronted by the police, or other security force, and may not know their rights. In such a situation, the Sidekik app can be used for a few different things. It will be able to audio and video record the interactions that the user has with the police, and then upload it to a server where it can’t be deleted by just deleting the physical file off the phone. And it can connect the user, in real time, to an attorney who can help. Here’s a more thorough explanation of the idea:
The idea hasn’t really taken off on Indiegogo — so far, just over $11,000 has been raised of the $250,000 that Sidekik estimates it will need to get off the ground. But according to the founders, that initial money is enough to start developing the preliminary stages of the app.
I think the idea, at its core, is an interesting one. I do agree with the founders that most average Americans don’t necessarily know their rights, although if you’re curious, this guide on what to do if you’re pulled over by Lawstreeter Marisa Mostek is an excellent resource. Given the debates the nation has been having about police militarization and fairness, the Sidekik app could play an interesting part in ensuring that civil rights violations are avoided. I highly doubt that an app like this would have saved Michael Brown in Ferguson, but I could see it preventing some more minor civil rights issues.
There are some serious logistical issues though that need to be worked out when it comes to contacting attorneys. Presumably, you only have a few seconds between being pulled over and the cop walking up to your window. There’s no real time to tell your mobile attorney what’s going on, which will probably make it difficult for the attorney to be of real help.
Sidekik is also built on the fact that it will be in contact with attorneys within the jurisdiction where the user is interacting with the police, and be able to send the calls to those attorneys. It’s assumed that attorneys will pick up because of the desirability of client leads. I think that’s a great idea — during normal business hours. But what if you get pulled over at 2:00am? Will Sidekik be able to find a lawyer for you then? It’s certainly a tough guarantee to make, when it involves outsourcing to third parties.
Issues with the “contact an attorney wherever” logistics aside, the recording and uploading to a remote server is a decent idea. It will certainly allow you to chronicle your interactions with the police officer and ensure that the file can’t be deleted permanently if the phone is confiscated or destroyed. There are other apps that do the same thing, but maybe Sidekik will be able to make itself the go-to authority on secure recording.
I have no idea if this app will take off, but I think what it says about the state of American police is significantly more interesting than the app itself. We’re increasingly mistrustful of our police forces, and with more stories coming out every day, the paranoia is understandable. An app that’s based on the presumption that an officer is going to try to trick you or impede your civil rights is concerning. Whether or not Sidekik ends up being successful, it’s an interesting look into our national state of mind.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Jason Weaver via Flickr]