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Data-Fed Monitoring System Will Put New Yorkers Under Police Surveillance 259

Posted by timothy
from the if-this-isn't-creepy-you're-not-paying-attention dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes that New York City isn't just gathering data on citizens with cameras and other data sources for sifting through later to seek evidence in the event of violent acts; it's using some of that data in real-time in an attempt to reveal potential criminal activity. They've even picked a name for their system that echoes DARPA's Total Information Awareness, which I guess is more diplomatic than just calling it Precrime: "The Domain Awareness System will draw data from 911 calls, previous crime reports, license-plate readers, law-enforcement databases, environmental sensors, and roughly 3,000 closed-circuit cameras. It will rely on the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN), a high-speed wireless broadband infrastructure that allows city agencies to rapidly transmit data, and used for everything from emergency response to reading meters. Mayor Bloomberg argued that the system isn't an example of Big Brother overstepping the line. 'What you're seeing is what the private sector has used for a long time,' he told Gothamist. 'If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are. We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore.'"
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Data-Fed Monitoring System Will Put New Yorkers Under Police Surveillance

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  • by 3seas (184403) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:10PM (#40933643) Journal

    How many times have we heard one thing said and the opposite done?

  • The problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:10PM (#40933647)

    "We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore." That's the problem Mr. Bloomberg.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      I wonder if they're going to try to come up with new names for the Ministry of Truth and Ministry of Love.....or just go ahead and follow the blueprint the rest of the way through unchanged....?
      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Please. This is microsoft setting up the system. I wouldn't be surprised if this has a Microsoft-esque marketing campaign attached.

        "it's for your own benefit, and there are safeguards in place to prevent abuse" etc etc. (all while being untrue)

      • by Genda (560240)

        I'm so sorry, you're looking for the Monsanto office down the hall and on your left, and the "Exxon Mobil" office around the corner, just keep going past the "AIG" office and you'll see it on your right... its the REALLY BIG office.

    • Re:The problem (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:31PM (#40934013)

      The real problem is that there are now so many laws that everyone is a criminal, you can't even tell for certain whether what you're doing is illegal because it may be hidden in an obscure paragraph on page 10,799 of the 'Think Of The Children Act 2003' and if every law was enforced the entire economy would shut down.

      • Re:The problem (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sentrion (964745) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:20PM (#40935131)

        And the laws are so vague that nobody knows if you're really guilty until a judge says so. It's such problem that lawyers today usually advise against taking advantage of some new law until the law has been "tested" in court. It is not unheard of that a person can be complying with law a and compying with law b, but when doing so simultaneously without complying with law c they are guilty of some horrendous crime and must spend years in prison for what most people would perceive as routine day-to-day business.

        Import business can be very scary because you can be tried and imprisoned in the US for violating the law of some other country, even when that other country sends diplomats and sworn affidavits that their laws were not violated.

        You don't even have to break any known laws. A judge can simply find you in contempt and leave you to rot in prison for six years, at his sole discretion.

        • by 7-Vodka (195504)

          Why would this get modded Troll?

          This guy is absolutely right, there are tens of thousands of Federal laws on the books and if you ask THE FEDS how many laws they have they cannot tell you because they can't keep track of them.

          And it's not just importers of goods that can get wrapped up in laws from other Nations, there are several federal laws that say you are committing a felony if you violate any law in any international country, even if you were outside of the US at the time and if you were ignorant

      • but there not going to be enforced equally.

        the entire point of a police state isn't to enforce laws on the books, its to make everyone a criminal, and enforce them when convienant.

        It gives the police discretion to arrest whomever they want, when they want, and leave it to their judgement to do so.

        Well connected inviduals? more of a chance to get a pass.

        Slow day, and its budget time? arrest as many people as possible?

        Personal beef with the police? arrested.

        Look funny? arrested?

        going to give information that
  • Unsubscribe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:11PM (#40933669)

    Mayor Bloomberg argued that the system isn't an example of Big Brother overstepping the line. 'What you're seeing is what the private sector has used for a long time,' he told Gothamist. 'If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are. We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore.'"

    The difference here is that I am not allowed to opt-out of the government's system. I am able to choose whether I want to allow the private sector to know where I am by not buying a cell phone. Big difference there, chief.

    • by garcia (6573)

      The difference here is that I am not allowed to opt-out of the government's system. I am able to choose whether I want to allow the private sector to know where I am by not buying a cell phone. Big difference there, chief.

      Exactly. And the oft-misquoted saying that applies here doesn't need to be repeated but I would rather be one of a few thousand people to die due to criminal activity than have the Mayor of NYC tracking my every move because he can.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jhoegl (638955)
      I believe you can "opt-out" by moving to another country.
      Or in this case, another city.
      • by KhabaLox (1906148)

        Or in this case, another city.

        Tell that to Muslims in New Jersey. [google.com]

      • Right, how simple that is. I can just... move to another city! Well, when someone gives someone enough money to, they can.

      • by Genda (560240)

        Indeed, however, Antarctic winters tend to be a wee bit chilly.

      • by tqk (413719)

        I believe you can "opt-out" by moving to another country.

        Yes, and since when did "The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" consider that an option?

        Perhaps Bloomberg needs to be better acquainted with Boston harbour?

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      The difference here is that I am not allowed to opt-out of the government's system. I am able to choose whether I want to allow the private sector to know where I am by not buying a cell phone.

      Also, the private sector uses that information to serve me. The cell phone company knows where I am because they need to connect my calls.

      • Also, the private sector uses that information to serve me.

        They use the information to serve their stockholders. Sometimes, that also involves serving the people from whom the information is gathered, sometimes it involves using are distributing that information in ways that are against the interests of the people from whom it was gathered.

        Not really all that different from government, really.

        • by icebike (68054) *

          They use the information to serve their stockholders. Sometimes, that also involves serving the people from whom the information is gathered, sometimes it involves using are distributing that information in ways that are against the interests of the people from whom it was gathered.

          It has nothing to do with shareholders.
          Shareholders would be the first to demand the cell carriers stop handing over cell records to any tin-star sheriff if that were legally possible.
          It ads cost, and has no possible upside. Other than that, cell carriers do not use my location for anything except tower load planning.

          • by Genda (560240)

            However shareholders are perfectly happy with your cell provider selling your whereabouts to the GAP or Starbucks, and make no mistake, if not giving that information to the Government, is going to hurt stock prices one little bit, you my friend are buggered six ways come Sunday.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          They use the information to serve their stockholders.

          If I buy a cheap minute phone with cash, the only thing they know is where I am. They don't even know who I am. What good is knowlege of my position to the stockholders without any other information? The "where I am" only benefits the stockholders because without it the phone would be worthless and they would have no income.

    • Re:Unsubscribe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Artraze (600366) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:25PM (#40933901)

      And, more to the point, the cell phone company can't put people in jail. They aren't going to be searching that data to "discover" crimes. (Collect enough data and statistically you can 'prove' almost anything). If anything, their incentive is to ignore it as much as possible: Not only because it limits their liability in case something happens that they missed, but also because people is jail aren't buying cell phones.

    • The difference here is that I am not allowed to opt-out of the government's system.

      You can always replace the people who run it. You can actually vote for change, should you accept the challenge. Either way, private or public, the power is in our hands, and when things go wrong, especially on the chronic time scale we're looking at, we have nobody but ourselves to blame. We enable both the dictator and the industrialist who props him up.

      • Re:Unsubscribe (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:27PM (#40933931)

        You can always replace the people who run it.

        Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        You can actually vote for change, should you accept the challenge.

        Millions of people took that challenge in 2008, and they got yet another crook. You can vote for change, yes, but you won't get it.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>The difference here is that I am not allowed to opt-out of the government's system.

      After CISPA passes (or some other annoying acronym like SOPA or FEAR), there won't be any difference. The executive branch of the state or central government will just demand the cellphone company turn-over their records of where you've been. No need for a signature from the judicial branch either. No checks/balances required.

    • Re:Unsubscribe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) * on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:45PM (#40934249)

      The difference here is that I am not allowed to opt-out of the government's system.

      Nor does AT&T have the power of arrest and detention.

      Standing up and saying its not Big Brother doesn't make it so.
      The sad part is New Yorkers will probably go for this in a heart beat. All you need to do is whisper World Trade Center, and all opposition voices will be drowned out. Take it from me, my sister lords it over me every time this type of issue comes up because she was 6 blocks away on 9/11.

      • Nor does AT&T have the power of arrest and detention.

        Standing up and saying its not Big Brother doesn't make it so. The sad part is New Yorkers will probably go for this in a heart beat. All you need to do is whisper World Trade Center, and all opposition voices will be drowned out. Take it from me, my sister lords it over me every time this type of issue comes up because she was 6 blocks away on 9/11.

        Have you ever lived/worked in N.Y.C.? You've got some seriously dangerous animals who have no human

        • Nor does AT&T have the power of arrest and detention.

          Standing up and saying its not Big Brother doesn't make it so. The sad part is New Yorkers will probably go for this in a heart beat. All you need to do is whisper World Trade Center, and all opposition voices will be drowned out. Take it from me, my sister lords it over me every time this type of issue comes up because she was 6 blocks away on 9/11.

          Have you ever lived/worked in N.Y.C.? You've got some seriously dangerous animals who have no human compassion at all in them. And thanks to video, face recognition and cell tracking these heartless criminals are getting caught more and more. If having to give up some "in public" privacy means my sisters are safer when there, then HELL YES! Take my photo! Recognize my face and track my damn phone! I don't do illegal things, and don't care if I get stop & frisked for weapons. You can't be against public surveillance then complain later when you or your loved ones get mugged/raped/killed. Welcome to the modern life.

          My neighbors, friends and acquaintances would all disagree with you. Unlike the crap some would like to believe, Most NYers are Americans and those who want to be Americans -- who value freedom over security. The events of 9/11/2001 were awful. Those poor folks who jumped from the burning towers were reminiscent of another horrific tragedy in NYC, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire [wikipedia.org] only much, much worse.

          The rank disregard of individual rights in the US is hardly limited to NYC. The fact that Bloomberg

          • by icebike (68054) *

            Well said.
            I've never had a single problem in NYC while visiting my sister, (other than winning an argument with her).
            And that includes walking all over the neighborhood at night with my sister, who is fairly fearless about that sort of thing (i.e. only been robbed once).

        • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @04:26PM (#40938219) Journal

          You've got some seriously dangerous animals who have no human compassion at all in them.

          Very true. Do you really want to give them the ability to track you every minute of every day?

          Here we see the simplemindedness of the authoritarian. He has no way to conceive that the bad people he is so afraid of might one day control the security apparatus of the city (if they do not do so already). We've already seen how brutally the NYPD has treated a peaceful movement for economic justice, while letting trillions of dollars worth of fraud go unpunished. What reason is there to believe the NYPD has your best interests at heart?

          You can't be against public surveillance then complain later when you or your loved ones get mugged/raped/killed.

          You can't be for universal surveillance and then complain later when the authorities use it to chill political dissent.

    • Michael Bloomberg is a pompous, egotistical, authoritarian windbag. He has implemented or expanded a variety of obnoxiously authoritarian measures during his tenure, not least of which is the "Stop and Frisk" [wikipedia.org] insanity.

      What is more, Hizzonor contravened the will of his constituents by modifying the term limits law [wikipedia.org] (which the people of NYC directly voted for *twice*) in cahoots with the 85% of the city council who would have had to leave office because of the law.

      So I for one am not surprised by the effort

    • Bloomberg is correct in a way: The motivations of both parties are the same. They both want to control your behavior.
  • The Difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:13PM (#40933685)

    The difference, of course, is that only government holds the special "right" to employ physical force as a business model. Private business can only hurt you with the blessing of government. Government can hurt you at will, and with no recourse.

    • Government can hurt you at will, and with no recourse.

      If that was the case, US would still be part of the British empire.

    • Private business can only hurt you with the blessing of government. Government can hurt you at will, and with no recourse.

      Correction: private business can hurt you either with the blessing of government, or in the absence of government. Government, in a democracy (and yes, the US is a type of democracy), can hurt you for as long as people are voted in who hurt you.

      The benefit of democracy isn't representation. The benefit is the bloodless revolution and changing of the guard that is possible every X years. The benefit of private business isn't that it is an optional relationship. It's that its power is checked by everyone maki

      • The benefit of democracy isn't representation. The benefit is the bloodless revolution and changing of the guard that is possible every X years.

        Too bad that the US is locked in perpetual cycle of 'meet the new boss same as the old boss' because of its 2 party system.

        • Which has all to do with voter education, and nothing with the usefulness of the second amendment.

          • I never mentioned the 2nd amendment.
            • Apologies - that was the scope of another post I wrote, and what I had in mind when I wrote the initial response here. The general tack is generally that the government has a monopoly on violence, and to counteract the abuse of that monopoly, we have the second amendment.

              So yes, nothing to do with your argument that we're locked into near identical choices, due to the fact that we have two choices that need to appeal to very broad swathes of the US voting public.

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:14PM (#40933707)

    If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are

    And if I have a bank account, then the bank knows how much money I have or what all my transactions are. That doesn't mean police gets to use that information indiscriminately/without a warrant.

    • Do you see the mention of warrants in his proposal?

      None

      It's all automatic like DMCA takedowns.
      Guilty until proven innocent.

  • What we need is the human equivalent of license plate "protectors". I foresee a new fashion trend...
    • Re:Hijab (Score:4, Funny)

      by Nkwe (604125) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:24PM (#40933881)

      What we need is the human equivalent of license plate "protectors". I foresee a new fashion trend...

      You mean like a hoodie?

      • which then causes a law to be passed that within X feet of "critical locations" it is a crime to have your hood UP.

        btw in NC it is illegal to have anything covering/obscuring the plate

  • >> System Will Put New Yorkers Under Police Surveillance

    This is a great idea... in Soviet Russia.

    • by ApplePy (2703131)
      Soviet Russia's KGB in its wildest wet dreams never imagined the level of Big Brother surveillance that the US government/corporate partnership could put into place here with modern technology. By contrast, the Soviet citizen of 1980 had far more privacy and anonymity.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:24PM (#40933873)

    That would be the response from my "friends" if I posted this on facebook. They just don't see anything wrong with this level of surveillance (or police ramming-down your door and shooting you).

    • Maybe they believe the society described in 1984 is a utopia, or that when someone gets into the government, they become perfect beings incapable of making mistakes or abusing their powers.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:28PM (#40933961) Homepage

    No. You're our Big Brother's police department.

  • @Mitreya: the police can and do seize cell location data without warrant, I've seen it happen (in the referred instance it did put a man away for 18-to-life for burning down his parent's house, nearly killing his entire family. When information like that is referred to in a court of Law, warrant or not the jury can't unhear what's been said no matter how adamantly the judge insists on it. That unwarranted seizure is the ONLY thing that put the guy away).

    Which is why the cellphone stays HOME. Where I go and

  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mephistophocles (930357) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:31PM (#40934017) Homepage

    Mayor Bloomberg argued that the system isn't an example of Big Brother overstepping the line.

    That shouldn't even be up for debate here. If we're taking up that debate with the Mayor, then we've already fallen for his straw-man and are missing the point completely. Of COURSE it's overstepping the line; that's obvious and doesn't need debate. The real problem here is that New Yorkers aren't fighting stuff like this for all they're worth - non-violent whenever possible, violent when necessary. And yes, that's constitutionally protected free speech.

    For now, Bloomberg, you evil fiend, I hope this at least destroys whatever tourist traffic is left in the big apple. I, for one, will not ever be traveling to your city as long as this crap exists (and it's a shame, because there is much about New York that I love).

    • by akb (39826)

      non-violent whenever possible, violent when necessary. And yes, that's constitutionally protected free speech.

      I was unaware that violence was Constitutionally protected speech. Please explain.

  • Not reassuring. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eevee (535658) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:40PM (#40934161)

    We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore.'"

    Becoming the Stasi [wikipedia.org] isn't an improvement.

  • by sl3xd (111641) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:46PM (#40934271) Journal

    Businesses shouldn't be allowed to collect data that the government can't.

    Government shouldn't be allowed to collect data because "the private sector already does this."

    I had the misfortune to attend a conference a few weeks ago where salesmen were being taught about "big data" by marketdroids.

    These guys were drooling about wholesale intrusion into the most private aspects of our lives.

    It really is the rise of big brother. The fact that it is a corporation instead of government is of little practical value; monitoring data gives those who have it power, and that power will always be abused - and will result in ruined or destroyed lives, reduced freedom, and corrupt leadership (whether government or corporate).

  • What, exactly, is a non data-fed monitoring system? What exactly would it monitor if not data?

  • Just because the private sector is doing wrong things, it doesn't justify the city doing wrong things.

  • Mayor Bloomberg argued that the system isn't an example of Big Brother overstepping the line. 'What you're seeing is what the private sector has used for a long time,' he told Gothamist. 'If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are. We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore.'"

    How in the hell is that statement supposed to make me feel comfortable?

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:12PM (#40934977) Homepage
    Every single room in a police station (aside from the bathrooms) and every single police car should be under constant surveillance, going directly to the Internal Affairs office, and is also recorded and retained for a minimum of 10 years.

    If the video is not shown, then by law, the cops should not be allowed to testify about what they saw, heard, said, or did. I.e. it should be assumed that the cops destroyed the evidence to allow them to lie.

  • by fa2k (881632)

    "Total Information Awareness" sounds pretty horrible, if *that* is the euphemism.

  • by UPZ (947916)
    We'll just monitor your location, vehicles, assets, homes, phone lines, internet activity, body temperature, bowel movements, brain activity and a few more.. oh, and of your spouse and children too...who said anything about big brother?
  • It's been in use for 6 months already. and the public is just now finding out?
  • "...private companies already do it"
    The difference Mr Bloomberg is that the private company doesn't claim the right to fine, tax and impound your whole existence for little more than breathing.
  • No, as they used to respect the privacy of the honest citizen.

  • by Gravis Zero (934156) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @02:56PM (#40936933)

    It's been gradual but i think we can say it's official that The Big Apple has become The Big Fuck You.

    You have obscene pricing, crooked cops, they completely ignoring everything bad going down on Wall Street (and their major cocaine habit), they are a nanny city telling you that you cant have a large soda and now they are going Big Brother on everyone (that isn't part of the government).

    Corporations really dont give a damn about what people do so long as they keep getting money from them. However, governments are just itching to break out the swat team for a double parked car.

    I think it's time to blow the bridges and drag it out to sea with all the vermin on it.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @03:18PM (#40937223)

    Appropriate, because it's not my mom and pop's country anymore.

  • by stanlyb (1839382) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @03:56PM (#40937783)
    So, let me summarize it:
    1.It is OK to do all this surveillance at municipality level, because, you see, it is already done by the private business.
    2.But the fact that is is already done by the private business does not mean that it is legal.
    3.But because we justified 1, based on 2, now we have 3, it is LEGAL to do all this surveillance.
    Now, my friends, do you see why MATH is so important? If you, dear friend, try to prove any lemma or theorem this way, you will repeat the same year again and again and again........

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