The NYPD is but one of a growing number of local and state police agencies throughout the country engaged in the non-stop tracking of car license plates. Most troubling, the data captured through license plate reader (LPR) and automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) programs are being integrated with other personal data to provide the security state with ever more detailed profiles of ordinary Americans.
As Kade Ellis ofPrivacy SOS and the ACLUreported, a security expert says that everyone who was at Occupy Wall Street had their cell phone surveyed by the NYPD. “[T]he identity of that cell phone has been logged, and everybody who was at that demonstration, whether they were arrested, not arrested, whether their photos were ID’d, whether an informant pointed them out, it’s known they were there anyway. This is routine,” private investigator Steven Rambam says in a video talk.
He continued, “[C]ell phones are now the little snitch in your pocket. Cell phones tell me where you are, what you do, who you talk to, everybody you associate with.”
The New York City Police Department and Microsoft have partnered up to bring the world a surveillance system straight out of a sci-fi novel. With a name both mundane and a little bit menacing, the Domain Awareness System allows the department to access around 3,000 CCTV cameras around the city and link the feeds with software to cross-check criminal and terrorist databases, take radiation levels, scan license plates, and more — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from a lower Manhattan headquarters. And when Microsoft turns around and sells the technology to other cities, New York gets a cut.
“We’re not your mom-and-pop’s Police Department anymore,” said Mayor Bloomberg yesterday at the system’s unveiling. “We are in the next century. We are leading the pack.” Ray Kelly added, “We can track where a car associated with a murder suspect is currently located and where it’s been over the past several days, weeks or months.” Months! The archival period for video is actually 30 days, but can be extended if the Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism feels like it.
The official documents ensure, “As with all NYPD operations, no person will be targeted or monitored by the Domain Awareness System solely because of actual or perceived race, color, religion or creed, age, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, military status, or political affiliation or beliefs.” But we’ve heard that one before.
Beyond the surveillance integration, the Domain Awareness System is an investment. “I hope Microsoft sells a lot of copies of this system,” the mayor said, “because 30 percent of the profits will go to us.” High-tech crime fighting and a business opportunity? It’s a Bloomberg-ian dream.
… the New York Police Department, in 2011, stopped, questioned and frisked a record-breaking 684,330 black and Latino males, with 41 percent of those stop-and-frisks being youth between the ages of 14 and 24…