From the Department of Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste comes word that 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.
Could more cameras in New York City help prevent attacks like the one at the Boston Marathon? That's what Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the NYPD is looking into.
The department already uses so-called smart cameras that hone in on unattended bags, and set off alarms.
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."
Surveillance cameras helped authorities find the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing — giving more fuel to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's argument that the more cameras exist, the better.
The NYPD is touting its use of the so-called smart cameras that have been used for nearly a decade in Lower Manhattan to identify potential threats such as unattended bags left for too long.
As Reason's own Brian Doherty has pointed out, surveillance advocates conveniently forget that it was private security cameras from which footage is shared with authorities only in emergencies, like the aftermath of the bombing, that did the honors in Boston. Cautions Doherty:
The public spaces of Boston were already filled with enough private cameras to close the net on the suspects. Ubiquitous public cameras—watched always by officials with power over us—raise obvious problems, as the American Civil Liberties Union has noted, of criminal abuse, institutional abuse, personal abuse on the part of officials, discrimination, and rampant voyeurism.
Of course, what Kelly wants is public cameras — specifically, an expanded network of police-controlled "smart" cameras watching the city and responding automatically to perceived dangers. With the public frightened and in no mood to consider that surveillance cameras pose their own dangers, he just might get his wish.
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