Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Turns NYC Into a Microsoft Surveillance State

Everyone will be watched. The New York Daily News reports:
The Domain Awareness System designed by the NYPD and Microsoft Corp. uses data from a network of cameras, radiation detectors, license plate readers and crime reports, officials said. 
“We’re not your mom and pop police department anymore,” Mayor Bloomberg crowed. “We are in the next century. We are leading the pack.”...
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, [Police commissioner Ray] Kelly said....
“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,” Kelly said. “This is a system developed by police officers for police officers.”
The system will also check license plate numbers to a watch list and alert investigators if a match is detected and quickly pull up crime reports, arrests and warrants on a suspect.
The system has some civil liberties advocates warning of Big Brother type surveillance.
“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.
Technolog reports:

The Domain Awareness System taps into existing data, such as video surveillance feeds and 911 calls, and analyzes them in real time. Examples of its applications include immediate notification regarding suspicious packages and vehicles, tracking a car's location over a number of months, and improving deployment of emergency services. 
The city has thousands of cameras, more than a hundred license plate readers, and has now deployed 2600 radiation detectors with officers on patrol. Anything from a 911 call to a suspiciously parked vehicle to a license plate on a watch list will alert people monitoring the system, and resources can be deployed immediately. Records and reports that mention a piece of data like a license or address will immediately be displayed as well... 
It could reasonably be called an all-seeing surveillance system, but there are some limitations. It doesn't use facial recognition, for instance, though that is not a technical limitation — it could be implemented later on. 

And Bloomberg is not stopping there, he is going to pimp for Microsoft and push other cities to buy the program:

The system, which cost somewhere between $30 and $40 million to develop, could also help pay for itself with the city expecting to earn 30% of the profits on Microsoft sales to other city’s and countries, Bloomberg said.

An EPJ reader emails:
 A friend of mine worked on the project and tells me it's pretty scary. They really developed a system that can analyze all streams of information.


  1. It's just like the second Dark Knight Batman movie when he plugs into every cell phone and camera in the city to catch the joker... the ends justify the means. But to what end???

    I've got to move away.

  2. Is Bloomberg the most revolting, despicable piece of garbage in a politician's suit in the history of America?

    If he were president, he might make Bush and Obama look like Thomas Jefferson. He's exhibit A of why the Founding Fathers thought the second amendment was important.

  3. It sounds to me like a perfect storm of information overload and resulting bureaucratic paralysis. Sure, you can collect and compile large amounts of privacy destroying data automatically but at some point some petty police official will have to analyze this mountain of information. What will they do when confronted with constant examples of suspicious behavior? They will begin to ignore it and go back to their donuts, coffee and internet porn surfing. It's still a frightening harbinger of the coming police state.

    1. But they can selectively harvest whatever damaging piece of info suits their purpose. The miracle of relational data bases...

    2. >It sounds to me like a perfect storm of information overload and resulting bureaucratic paralysis.

      Yup how easy would it then be to basically "paralyze" the NYPD with a half dozen false alarms... get them chasing their proverbial tail, and THEN once they are "fully committed" and dispersed, pull off some other trick.

      IIRC that was the theme of some movie or another (one or more of those "Die Hard" things?) -- only with the "video" and reacting to any/all "suspicious activity" they are just making it all that much easier.


  4. Just wait until the system accidentally gets plugged into live sex webcams. Hehehehehe.

  5. By Microsoft? Thank god. This is company that brought you the blue screen of death.

    It's like 1984, but with morons.

  6. Makes Sauron's eye from the Lord of the Rings seem pretty harmless in comparison . .

  7. Yet another reason to use Linux.

  8. I wonder if any of the programmers that worked on Knight Capital's system are involved?

  9. Soon from loudspeakers everywhere:

    “Ve are not your mom and pop politzei department anymore, ve are in ze next century. Ve are leading ze pack.”... Sieg Heil - Sieg Heil - Sieg Heil!

  10. Why do New Dorkers keep voting for this f*cking thug?