Statists and post-constitutionalists have a new ally: technology.
The total surveillance police state has finally arrived – in New York City, at least – following a marriage between NYC officials and Microsoft.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, have unveiled a massive new $40 million spy system that literally puts the entire city under surveillance.
The Domain Awareness System, as it’s called, was designed by the NYPD and Microsoft to incorporate data from surveillance cameras, license-plate readers (did you know about these?), crime reports and radiation detectors to provide police with instant, real-time tracking capabilities.
And, of course, a massive new tool to spy on you 24/7/365.
“We’re not your mom and pop police department anymore,” banmaster-in-chief Bloomberg chirped as he introduced the system. “We are in the next century. We are leading the pack.”
Interestingly enough, this is more than just a technological marriage; it’s a business venture as well. After securing a deal with Microsoft to develop DAS, Bloomberg, Inc. went a step further. He set the venture up as a for-profit enterprise.
That’s right. According to the New York Daily News, NYC stands to earn 30 percent of the profits of sales of DAS to other cities.
Proliferation will be profitable
So, now it’s in NYC’s best interests to see DAS proliferated to as many cities in the U.S. (and the world) as possible.
Starting to get the picture? This is, without question, the largest expansion of the surveillance society in the history of the world. It’s the stuff that makes dictators green with envy (or smile from ear to ear, depending on which side of the surveillance screens they are on).
“For years, we’ve been stovepiped as far as databases are concerned,” Kelly told reporters at the unveiling. “Now, everything that we have about an incident, an event, an individual comes together on that workbench, so it’s one-stop shopping for investigators.”
“When I came back to the police department in 2002 I found that the department was still a very big user of white out and carbon paper,” Kelly said, according to WCBS-TV. “The technical revolution had bypassed the police department.”
Well, that certainly isn’t the case anymore.
“Using the new system, investigators will be able to access information through live video feeds and could potentially see who left a suspicious package behind just moments later,” the Daily News said.
DAS utilizes input from some 3,000 cameras positioned in and around Lower Manhattan, in addition to the other data feeds. According to reports, the system will be capable of:
– Identify whether a radiation alarm was set off by actual radiation, a weapon, or a medical isotope that’s harmless
– Track where a suspect’s car is located, as well as where it has been in the past few days, weeks or months
– See instantly a suspect’s arrest record and any 9-1-1 calls that are related to the crime
– Mapping features, so police can develop “crime patterns” in particular neighborhoods and boroughs
The Constitution is no longer relevant – We have a city to protect
“It’s a tool that meets the needs of the department, one that will help protect New Yorkers and keep us safe from crime and terrorism for years to come,” Kelly added. “[The system will help] to generate and refine leads, to identify patterns, and to optimally deploy manpower.”
Obviously civil rights groups have voiced huge concerns over the potential for abuse of such a massive surveillance system.
“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,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Associate Legal Director Chris Dunn.
For his part, Bloomberg seemed dismissive of anyone who has legitimate concerns about how DAS could further erode a quaint little document known as the U.S. Constitution.
“The bad guys have everything that we do, too. And if you really want to worry about security and freedoms, that’s the first thing,” he said derisively.
Well, the bad guys don’t have a Constitution, Mr. Mayor. And apparently, Americans don’t either – at least one that is still observed, revered and followed.
You remember that, don’t you? It would have been the document you and Chief Kelly swore to uphold when you took office.
Everyone understands the need for better security, ladies and gentlemen. We all want to be protected and most of us are willing to go the extra mile to allow those tasked with standing guard the tools to get the job done.
But if that means trashing the pillars of what made our society great in the first place, haven’t the bad guys already won?