Monday, September 3, 2007

Reason 931 why I'm glad I left New York

The Gotham Gazette covers a new government scheme to create a "ring of steel" in lower Manhattan that would place people in the street under an unprecedented degree of intrusive surveillance by law enforcement agents.
The New York City Police Department will soon launch a new counter-terrorism surveillance program named the "Lower Manhattan Security Initiative." It will include some 3,000 cameras – both public and private – below Canal Street to monitor people and cars moving through Lower Manhattan, along with license plate readers, a command center and movable roadblocks. The program is generally seen as having been modeled on London’s so-called ring of steel, a security and surveillance system that keeps many eyes on London’s financial district and historic sites. Some counts estimate that with this system the average London resident is photographed 300 times a day.
As always, the plan is being sold as a necessary means of preserving public safety in these unfortunate days post-9/11. Unmentioned is any matching scheme to protect New Yorkers from the folks running the ring of steel. And, as the article explains, the abuses of such a surveillance system are far from theoretical.
In a television interview, George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen recalled sitting in a camera control room one night. When boredom set in after midnight, the workers focused not on miscreants but on attractive women and people making out in the park. During the 2004 Republican convention in New York, Rosen recalled, "surveillance cameras on airplanes took pictures of a couple making love on a roof garden, followed them, watched this whole thing and then actually trailed the woman as she left."

Now multiply such petty intrusions by the thousands of planned new cameras and the fallible people hired to monitor them--as well as the officials bound to "discover" new uses for their
data--and you have a recipe for disaster.

Will New Yorkers stand for it? I'll bet they will. Long famous for their stubborn rebelliousness, New Yorkers have proven every bit as receptive as anybody else to phony promises of safety in return for a little liberty.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 18, 2009 11:30 PM  

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