The concept of sousveillance -- surveillance by the people, bidirectional surveillance, watching the watchers -- has been proposed by several people, including David Brin and Philippe Van Nedervelde (both members of CRN's Global Task Force).
But what could convince people, especially powerful people, to accept this level of openness?
In some cases, favorable public opinion might do the trick. For example, a food packaging company or a restaurant might install webcams throughout the workspace and then publicize the fact, using it to claim that they are demonstrably more hygienic than their competition that "doesn't dare to show how they work."
What about the military, the police, and other enforcers? That is a harder sell, because security organizations are traditionally closed and often secretive. But in these modern times, nearly every powerful force must be at least a little bit concerned about public opinion.
Which is better: to carefully control the flow of information, trying to minimize the presence of unauthorized cameras... or to allow cameras, both official and unofficial, and publicize the fact? Imagine the effect of webcamming a prison, showing exactly what is happening all the time and why. Those few guards who enjoy gratuitous cruelty would quickly be found out and dealt with, and meanwhile the justified actions of other guards in responding to aggressive prisoners would be witnessed.
To take the idea further, think about the impact of putting a webcam on every soldier fighting in an armed conflict. People all over the world would be able to see what those soldiers were shooting at and why -- and would have a much better sense of "the fog of war" in which the combatants struggle to make good decisions. Anyone actually targeting civilians would be quickly identified. (Perhaps sensitive information could be delayed -- for most tactical situations, this likely would amount to only a few hours, or days at the most -- and the shorter delay, the less time for enemy propaganda to take root.)
This is a radical proposal -- to let everyone everywhere watch your prison guards at work, or your army killing and capturing people. But if the effect is to limit the damage caused by the inevitable "few bad apples," it might be seen as a net positive.
Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder