July 08, 2007

NYC's New Law Enforcement Dream: Cameras as Fetish, and Fear for Profit

Greetings. As I noted recently, it's not Google "Street View" photos we have to worry about.

Indeed, this New York Times article discusses New York City law enforcement's dream of a "Lower Manhattan Security Initiative" that would have given Stalin and his ilk a power boost comparable to that of today's popular little diamond-shaped blue pill.

Cameras everywhere. Automatic roadblocks. License plates and movements on record -- for how long? Who has access? Hey, who cares? Go around the block three times looking for a parking place? BUZZZ! Sound the alarm. Face recognition software false positives as usual? BUZZZ! Send out the riot squad. Leave your lunch on the park bench? BUZZZ! Evacuate! Evacuate! Fear Pays.

Security cameras are more powerful all the time. See that nice looking girl in the very, very short, tight dress? Zoom in. Farther. Farther! Don't laugh, this sort of abuse of law enforcement cameras has already been documented.

Divorce lawyers showing up with court orders for camera and tracking data -- to find out if Joe Blow has been naughty again? Sure, hand the data over -- if we've got the data, courts can order it used for whatever they damned well please. Data Expiration? We don't need no stinking data expiration! Disk drives are cheap! Retain is the name of the game.

And remember kiddies (here it comes, let's all say it together!): "You have no expectation of privacy once you walk out your front door!" (Many law enforcement spokesmen apparently have the "No expectation of privacy in public places" talking point tattooed on their forearms for easy reference.) Of course, that means that the government can track everywhere you go, everyone you meet, everyone you visit, every place you shop. Naturally, if they had creepy little guys in raincoats following you around individually, people might get upset. But the cameras aren't as disheveled and much more acceptable in polite society. If you don't like them? Tough.

And hey, just because these systems have proven essentially worthless in stopping terrorist attacks before they happen, that doesn't mean that we should penalize the manufacturers of these devices and their fat contracts. Something has to keep the economy grinding along and the Economics of Fear is about as good as it gets.

So sign up now for the New York City Security Ring of Steel. Get in on the ground floor and you too can make big bucks by leveraging the War on Terror for fun and profit.

This is, my friends, how it begins. Even if they never set off another bomb and never kill another person, the terrorists have -- it seems more likely every day -- already won.

Bend over, and smile for those cameras. Be seeing you.


Posted by Lauren at July 8, 2007 08:00 PM | Permalink
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