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NYC Police Comm'r: Privacy Is 'Off the Table' After Boston Bombs 508

An anonymous reader writes "New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks that now is a great time to install even more surveillance cameras hither and yon around the Big Apple. After the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tsarnaev brothers were famously captured on security camera footage and thereby identified. That just may soften up Americans to the idea of the all-seeing glass eye. 'I think the privacy issue has really been taken off the table,' Kelly gloats."
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NYC Police Comm'r: Privacy Is 'Off the Table' After Boston Bombs

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  • no problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:15PM (#43557455)

    as long as camera's are also installed inside police department in every office and interrogation room and are completely accessible by public.
      'I think the privacy issue has really been taken off the table,'

  • by NixieBunny ( 859050 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:18PM (#43557509) Homepage
    Since the cameras we have in place already were sufficient to identify the suspects, we obviously need more cameras.
    We call this "logic".
  • Huge Difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:21PM (#43557569) Journal

    Kelly dismisses critics who argue that increased cameras threaten privacy rights, giving governments the ability to monitor people in public spaces.

    “The people who complain about it, I would say, are a relatively small number of folks, because the genie is out of the bottle,” Kelly said. “People realize that everywhere you go now, your picture is taken.”

    There's a stark difference between a store knowing I am in their store and a centralized location storing all of my visits. And then there's an even further jump when it's a government doing that. I'm fine that I go into Gamestop and Gamestop gets tapes of me looking at games. I'm fine that I go to Chipotle and there's a camera on the cash register. I'm fine that I then walk by the entrance to an electronics store and I'm on their cameras passing by. That's cool, if they want to put together the odd footage they have of me going there, I'm not really concerned about that. And that's the stuff that ended up helping catch the Boston suspects.

    I'm not okay when one centralized location stores that data and my complete movements can be tracked. If a Gamestop employee got my address from a purchase and wanted to search my house, he'd have only the time I'm on camera to do it. If my whole trip is detailed, it could be done covertly quite easily.

    Decentralizing the stores of this video information has its own merits and disadvantages but I think there is a very small group of people that are uneasy with being videotaped at a grocery store by the grocery store yet a large group of people (once they think about what their tax dollars are being spent on) that would be uneasy about a government system centralizing this and putting individuals in charge of it.

    What worked here is that businesses realized they each had a piece of the puzzle to solve a heinous crime. This commissioner's claim that technology exists that would have prevented these attacks had it been a government controlled and centralized effort is largely horseshit and what benefits that pretends to provide are insignificant compared to the possible evils it could unleash.

    By the way, if this topic interests you then you should be watching Germany closely [].

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:28PM (#43557723)

    When they talk about "privacy" they mean the privacy of the people who are not the police and not the politicians. They still get all the privacy they want.

    Because of, you know, "national security" and "terrorists".

  • Totally absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:31PM (#43557773)
    Apart from the fact that it was all on TV, no crime of any real importance has happened. One harmless looking medical doctor in Britain killed fifty times more people without anyone noticing.

    Or take this: "A self-styled street preacher who lured three men to their deaths through job adverts on the Craigslist website has been sentenced to death in Ohio." So do we need to crack down on street preachers and Craigslist? Nonsense.

    If you compare killings by bombs during marathons, and killings by open-source file system developers, there isn't that much difference. So surely we need to close down open-source file system development as well?
  • Pathetic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:35PM (#43557823)

    The fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas has killed and injured far more that those in Boston. But, the media pays Texas little mind, compared to their scrutiny and "in depth" coverage of Boston.

    No one gives a second thought to Texas or fertilizer plants or any other industrial facility explosion. But 'ooh terrorists. Be afraid. Suspend the Constitution...'

    It's really quite pathetic. Even more so that my more reasoned position is outnumbered and shouted down by masses saying things like; 'so, you support the terrorists?', 'are you nuts?', 'you're just being really stupid.'

  • Re:no problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:40PM (#43557933)
    Question: Would putting everyone in handcuffs when they leave their homes have prevented the bombing? Because that's the only acceptable reason.
  • Re:no problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:41PM (#43557949) Homepage Journal

    You have no privacy in public spaces.

    So pitting camera in PUBLIC space is, by definition NOT an invasion of privacy.

    If you argument was that it has a chilling effect on normal public discourse, I would agree. The privacy argument? it's just stupid.

  • Re:no problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:42PM (#43557965) Homepage Journal

    Question: Would more cameras have *prevented* the bombing?

    It did prevent it.

    You're referring to the one in Time Square that these fine peace-loving immigrants were planning to do next, I assume?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:42PM (#43557969)

    Then, any cameras being placed should be openly accessible to the public in real time. I won't like the presence of cameras, but at least this is consistent with the sentiment that public places are not to be considered private.

    You know, I'm not sure I agree with that. It might sound nice on first thought, but it's really not. That would just greatly increase the number of people you'd have to worry about abusing the system. It's like saying "that wolf might eat me, but if we introduce another wolf then I don't have to worry anymore". Nope, now you have 2 wolves to worry about.

  • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaceManFlip ( 2720507 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:45PM (#43558011)
    It's all the media's manipulation of what people pay attention to. If you talk to individuals who can process thoughts within their own mind, it isn't unlikely that they can see the rational reality that the Boston Bombings were really not That Big of a Deal in the grand scope of things. More people are killed and injured on a daily basis just driving or riding in their fabulous automobiles.
  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:45PM (#43558013) Journal

    Cameras can be disabled with a $4 tool from a hardware store, or a $0.50 brick.

    Living, breathing cops are a bit harder to deal with, and if you do try to deal with them through the use of a $0.50 brick, you're likely to get several $0.30 9mm slugs returned in your direction at great velocities.

  • by egamma ( 572162 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ammage}> on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:50PM (#43558113)

    I really hope they don't put up ever more cameras. We don't need them. Crime has been falling since 1988 and the US murder rate is around 5.4 / 100,000 people. And that is close to its all time low. And terrorism is rare and unlikely to kill or hurt anyone. When can we start rolling out policy based on data and evidence not on fear?

    As far as cameras looking at police officers. We need a lot more of that. Police routinely 'beat people up' and conduct illegal searches. They need to be put on a short leash.

    You provided the per-capita murder rate. Can you also provide the per-capita for people beat up by police and for illegal searches?

  • Re:no problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:51PM (#43558129) Homepage Journal

    So batting .500 is acceptable.

    Ok. just trying to understand the expectation here. If I tolerate the expansion of surveillance, I can hope to be the second target for a group. If I'm the first, well, my sacrifice may be someone else's salvation.

    Ah yes, the difference between prevention and prosecution. Is this worth the infringement? I vote no, come back with a prevention plan.

    But I live and work in the Phoenix area, and we don't expect the Muslims to bomb us. Look for the illegal immigration advocates to do that here, more likely, though so far they have avoided such overt violence.

    And keep the flames coming. We're used to the heat.

  • Re:no problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @12:59PM (#43558297)

    If I ever get arrested for something, I certainly do not want people to be able to bring up the video.

    I was arrested for drunken driving. The video of my arrest is public record and I'm glad that's true. My lawyer said I didn't look drunk. He's seen plenty of these tapes. Turns out I was over the limit and the DA refused to plea bargain, so I got jail time for my first offense. A couple years later, that asshole DA was drunken driving. She was totally wasted. She had a bottle of vodka on the passenger seat. She argued with the cop. The video is public record. She refuses to step down from office. Even with the light of day, justice is hard to find, but it would be worse if we hide it.

  • by Brucelet ( 1857158 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:07PM (#43558467)
    I agree. Imagine someone stalking ex-girlfriends using omnipresent publicly-accessible cameras. Or planning a robbery with a partner monitoring cameras to tip him off when the police are responding. Maybe your workplace has someone checking cameras and asking why you went out to lunch after calling in sick. The correct response to Big Brother is not to give him more siblings.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:11PM (#43558543) Homepage Journal

    Google glass-wearing hipster overlords will watch them.

    Another thought: if every citizen walking around is wearing his own personal camera and recording everything, and nobody has access to the recording but the owner, maybe we don't need police surveillance cameras everywhere. In a clear case of public danger such as the Boston marathon bombing, citizens will be glad to provide their footage to the police. Otherwise they can refuse to hand it over to anyone.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:13PM (#43558587) Homepage Journal

    Liberty? OFF THE TABLE!
    Freedom? OFF THE TABLE!
    Justice? OFF THE TABLE!

    You are now safe from the threat we created for you.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:15PM (#43558607)
    Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium.
  • by DriveDog ( 822962 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:22PM (#43558705)

    Not accurately without surveillance of LEOs.

    You have been beaten by a LEO. You a) know the perp will not be busted, and b) can't afford to move your family to another city. Is reporting it going to go well for you and your family?

    Not in any sense am I blaming all the good apples for the actions of the bad, but abuses of power occur constantly, with rarely any consequences. LE attracts people with good motives, but also attracts those craving power. It's just the nature of the beast.

  • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:33PM (#43558867) Homepage

    That's most definitely the truth, but it's hard to convince people to understand that their expectations of life are simply wrong. In a car or crossing the street, we all know, at some level, there is a certain amount of risk and possibility that something "bad" could happen... and when it's an accident, we can forgive and move on. When it's something else, we want to blame, punish and all manner of other things.

    Here's the thing though -- none of the things the government will do can make anyone "safer." It just makes it easier for them to do other things and to inhibit and limit others while permitting themselves and their friends added privilege, freedom and protection from public knowledge.

    Culturally, we have got to get a better grip on and perspective of reality. There was a time and a place where we could let our children run around free to play and learn and grow. We can't do that any more because we've been cultured into fear of everything. And this all happened in my life time as I recall as a 5 to 10 year old being all over the neighborhood without a thought of checking in at home or any such thing. I was always home in time to eat or go to bed... I did what was expected of me and my parents had no cause for worry. I'm 45 years old this year. PEOPLE have not changed. They have not. It is our fears which have changed everything.

  • Re:no problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:38PM (#43558951) Homepage Journal

    The bombers were taken because of footage from cameras, most of which were owned by private individuals. Those cameras don't have the same privacy concerns as government-owned cameras because no single entity has access to all of them except under extreme circumstances where everyone universally agrees to make that footage available. And this is the way that it should continue to be done. This bombing provides no justification for any changes whatsoever. The system, as designed, with privacy built in, mostly worked.

    Incidentally, to the extent that the system did not completely work, it failed in a way that more cameras—particularly publicly accessible cameras—would exacerbate. If the public had access to more cameras, more often, we would have more incidences of false accusations like the one that led to the (presumed) suicide of Sunil Tripathi. The whole reason for limiting access to video from lots of different sources is that it greatly increases the probability of misidentification by greatly increasing the perceived confidence in the evidence (regardles of whether the public or police are doing that identification). Thus, the Boston bombing incident plainly demonstrates why the use of video evidence as a starting point, in the absence of other evidence tying someone to a crime, is an extreme solution that should be used only in extreme circumstances, where there is a serious public safety concern. Based on what happened here, IMO, giving the police access to more cameras more often is only likely to ruin a lot of innocent people's lives.

    Put another way, I think any question about Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's common sense has really been taken off the table.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:44PM (#43559063) Homepage

    You are now safe from the threat we created for you.

    But still not safe.

    America will gladly take the tattered bits of the constitution and pulp them over what is realistically a tiny threat. But when lax zoning laws coupled with almost zero oversight (e.g. holding 1350x as much ammonium nitrate onsite and not reporting it or being inspected) lead to an industrial disaster (*) in which more people were injured and killed almost concurrently with Boston .... the owners might face some kind lawsuit, but you don't hear the public clambering for a police state nor do you hear politicians gladly acquiescing.

    Or pick any random refinery explosion, which often kill workers and are often due to aged equipment not being replaced (**).

    Now, I don't think industrial accidents should warrant pulping the constitution, but the response we take in such instances should at least be instructive -- there is the potential for criminal and civil charges all of which will take place in the context of a trial conducted under the normal rules of evidence and procedure pertinent to the type of proceeding.

    But when many fewer people are hurt or injured by a bomb, we go on a self-destructive freeforall.

    (*) []
    (**) []

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:45PM (#43559073) Journal

    Remember there was more than one explosion caused by criminals last week. Is "privacy off the table" for fertilizer plants too? Fifteen people died in West, Texas. Why have there been no arrests yet?

  • Re:no problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:49PM (#43559129) Homepage Journal

    So thats why police don't let you film them []?

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:55PM (#43559225) Homepage

    America will gladly take the tattered bits of the constitution and pulp them over what is realistically a tiny threat.

    But remember, people who actually form new political ideologies and fight for the constitution and smaller limited government are the terrorists. At least according to the media, and the government itself.

  • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zzsmirkzz ( 974536 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:58PM (#43559247)

    If strangers have the right to "see" me with their eyes as I walk the street and walk in to a store, is it so different if that "seeing" is recorded?

    Yes, obviously. There would then be permanent documentation of every move everyone makes while in public which can be accessed now or at any time in the future for reasons which will not be made clear and will be subject to change at any time.

    I think what the "privacy" crowd wants is a right to "anonymity". And I'm not sure we have a right to "anonymity".

    No, what they want is their right to not be harassed upheld. Their right to not have every moment of their public activities stored as part of a permanent record. It is not unreasonable.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:02PM (#43559303)

    I really hope they don't put up ever more cameras. We don't need them. Crime has been falling since 1988 and the US murder rate is around 5.4 / 100,000 people. And that is close to its all time low. And terrorism is rare and unlikely to kill or hurt anyone. When can we start rolling out policy based on data and evidence not on fear?

    As far as cameras looking at police officers. We need a lot more of that. Police routinely 'beat people up' and conduct illegal searches. They need to be put on a short leash.

    You provided the per-capita murder rate. Can you also provide the per-capita for people beat up by police and for illegal searches?

    Well that's the point isn't it. We can't collect data because police lack effective oversight. If there was an an agency whose job it was to only oversee the police, who could not arrest civilians, and who had access to cameras, microphones and general surveillance of the police - then we could get an idea what kind of stuff goes down.

    You only have to look at the cases coming out of the Innocence project to see the incredible abuses by the criminal justice system.

  • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:03PM (#43559323)
    You are a good example of someone who is 80% down the slippery slope. Anonymity is one type of privacy. It is an important type of privacy. It may very well be the most important type of privacy. It is the type of privacy that you get when you mark a box on a ballot.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @04:39PM (#43561351)
    The interesting thing I have noticed over the years is that people don't actually clamor for the government to do something after these events. What you hear is politicians, bureaucrats, and certain members of the media clamoring for the government to do something. The people who yell, "this is an outrage, the government must do something" fall into two categories: those who have been calling for the government to do what they now say this "outrage" means the government must do now without further discussion and those who see an opportunity to wring some advantage out of this change (these categories are not mutually exclusive).
  • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @06:15PM (#43562297)

    What you're talking about isn't in the public domain. It's in the hands of multiple private individuals who present the evidence of their own volition.

    The problem with a single party having all control of information is that they only use it to protect themselves, and indict others. For instance, police officers have dash cams installed in their vehicles. Often when the officer is accused of doing something wrong, well gee we couldn't find that recording, or it's been overwritten, etc. But if you did something wrong on dashcam, well you can be guaranteed that it'll be retained intact.

    If many individuals maintain the information, then things come out on principle. This happened both in the Boston case and yours.

  • Re:Privacy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @06:24PM (#43562395)

    There is however a gigantic difference between a random business trying not to get robbed by installing surveillance cameras & government based monitoring. A huge huge difference. Rights aren't really being debated here I don't think, as much as ethics. You're right that it's not unreasonable to expect to be recorded in public, but when the government is doing it because they want to protect us from "terror"... well we're down this road with the patriot act and talk to anybody that's been fucked with by the TSA (a long list of people), we don't need any more protection / harassment.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.