We've talked at length among ourselves and publicly, about the incremental erosion of privacy most of us experience in the name of security. Recent events and technological developments have put that erosion into sharp focus. Here in New York, we've got a host of issues, and questions that arise from them.
Top of the list is the new, high tech Domain Awareness System. This has been developed in conjunction with Microsoft, and is, by published reports, "designed to bring the latest crime prevention and counter terrorism technology capabilities to New York City, and to other law enforcement jurisdictions around the world". Why does this give me the creeps? Certainly any crime fighting technique that gets criminals off the street is welcome. Yet what are the privacy issues with a technology that collects and analyzes data from cameras, license plate readers, and environmental sensors?
My guess is, we'll soon find out.
It was Twitter, however, that created waves when they refused an emergency request from the NYPD to share information on a user that appeared to making terroristic threats about shooting people at Mike Tyson's Broadway performance. Twitter eventually complied, and police tracked the user down and were talking to him as of Wednesday night. This would appear to be a no brainer. When someone threatens to create another Aurora in Manhattan's Theater District, that person needs to be tracked down immediately.
However, is law enforcement crossing the line when it demands that Twitter provide them with deleted tweets from Occupy Wall St. protestors? Apparently prosecutors wanted to determine whether protestors tweeted about blocking the Brooklyn Bridge, something they deny they planned to do in advance. A judge ruled in favor of the prosecutors, saying tweets, once that send button is hit, become public domain items, deleted or not. This is something everyone who tweets ought to keep in mind when those negative urges hit.
I don't think of myself as a paranoid person, yet when I see the cameras, both public and private that are recording our lives, it makes me nervous.
Can you tell me, what are we setting ourselves up for?