Smile, Super Bowl fans! The New York City Police Department has you under even closer and creepier surveillance than usual. The New York Civil Liberties Union reported finding over 2,000 surveillance cameras on the streets of Manhattan alone, before the stepped up security for the big football game. Now the NYPD is deploying an additional 200 or so "temporary" surveillance cameras in midtown in anticipation of the festivities.
Reports the AP's Tom Hays:
The New York Police Department has quietly installed about 200 temporary surveillance cameras in midtown Manhattan to help spot trouble along "Super Bowl Boulevard," a 13-block street fair on Broadway that's expected to draw large crowds during the windup to the game. Banners promoting the fair compete on the same lampposts with decidedly less festive signs reading, "NYPD Security Camera in Area."
Counting and mapping the cameras that were already in place is a project of the NYCLU. The organization's activists tallied 2,397 cameras watching public places, just in Manhattan. Outer-borough counts are yet to come. But the vast majority of those 2,000+ cameras are privately owned. Only an estimated 300 were installed and maintained by government agencies. So the 200 new additions represent a major upping of the ante, even if they remain temporary.
Private cameras are usually used to protect property and deter or record crime against specific people and businesses. But public cameras can be networked together and monitored by people who have the coercive power of the state at their command.
"Government has the power to investigate, prosecute, and potentially jail people and that's a very different thing from doing what officers did in Boston which is responding to a known crime by reviewing existing footage," Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California told Reason TV last May.
So, the installation of 200 new police-controlled cameras may not be such a positive thing.
See Reason TV's post-Boston bombing take on the new enthusiasm for surveillance cameras.