Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ITS Technologies Part of New York City Surveillance Plan

Watch out London, you may not be the surveillance capital of the world for long. While it was being reported last week that the average citizen in London is recorded an average of 3,000 times per week, New York’s Police Commissioner released a 36 page plan detailing how lower Manhattan is set to become a 24/7 mecca of surveillance themselves. In an attempt to prevent another catastrophic attack from happening, New York City Police plan to capture and track every vehicle that moves into the area through utilizing ITS technologies such as license plate readers and traffic cameras

The intelligence gathered from these ITS technologies will be used to detect and prevent vehicle born threats including radioactive dirty bombs and other explosives. The vehicle information will be stored for an undetermined period in order to follow up on “suspicious� vehicles or vehicles that are part of an on going law enforcement investigation.

Privacy advocates from the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) have cried foul, claiming the plan “to track and monitor the movements of millions of law-abiding people is an assault on this country’s historical respect for the right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone.� Alternatively, those in favor of the system, like Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, argue that “This is a passive collection of data that is not as personally invasive as what they do at airports.�

In our review of this, NYC plan appears to be completely legal. Under current U.S. Supreme Court rulings, drivers have no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to law enforcement observing their behavior on roadways, however the constant creep towards law enforcements ability to observe an individual’s every move while traveling may bring what is considered “reasonable� back into question.

The proposed system is set to come online in 2010.

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