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Ear to the Ground

Big Brother Gets Established in NYC

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Posted on Aug 9, 2012
WarmSleepy (CC BY 2.0)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Wednesday revealed that for the last six months the city has been monitoring its residents via a network of roughly 3,000 closed circuit television cameras that feed into NYPD headquarters. The technology is termed the “Domain Awareness System.”

Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, the system cost $30 million to $40 million. The deal struck between the software company and the city will give New York 30 percent of the profits if other municipalities purchase the system.

Regarding the new opportunities to abuse residents’ privacy made available by the system, Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement: “We fully support the police using technology to combat crime and terrorism, but law-abiding New Yorkers should not end up in a police database every time they walk their dog, go to the doctor or drive around Manhattan.”

Bloomberg’s response to such worries was not assuring: “We are very concerned about staying within the law, within court decisions. We believe we do that, but I think it’s a fair thing to say today, if you walk around with a cellphone, the cell company does know where you are at all times,” he said at a news conference announcing Domain Awareness.

A similar system that has long been operating in London is estimated to have solved one crime per 1,000 cameras.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Capital New York:

Reminiscent of the technology Tom Cruise’s character manipulates in Minority Report, the Domain Awareness System allows police to do all of the following things at once, from one place: monitor about 3,000 closed-circuit video feeds (mostly downtown and in midtown); record a license plate number from one of the department’s more than 100 license readers and view all of its associated crime reports; enter a suspect’s name, view his history and map it geographically; take radiation readings from the 2,600 detectors situated on boats, vans, and police belts throughout the city, determine if the radiation is a threat, and act accordingly.

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