NYPD monitoring: prototype for a national surveillance system?

In our immediately preceding blog post, we referred to the “considerable resources” that government — both federal and state organs — can bring to bear to conduct surveillance on citizens, collect evidence and seek to prosecute them for crimes ranging from drug charges and white collar crimes to a host of other charges.

New information that is just emerging regarding a “new crime-tracking system” being developed in New York City further underscores that ever-expanding power and drives home the point that strong criminal defense in the 21st century increasingly requires the diligent and proactive involvement of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What is being developed in New York will undoubtedly be closely watched by officials in cities throughout the country, including in Georgia. A bottom-line certainly of what is termed in New York the “Domain Awareness System” is that it will greatly increase the government’s ability to closely watch and track the movements of its citizenry and compile exhaustive and detailed evidence in anticipation of a criminal prosecution.

The new investigatory tool is a system jointly developed by the police department and Microsoft that incorporates data from video cameras, 911 calls and “other technologies” to enable authorities to comprehensively follow a person. Where that person has been and the sequence of his or her movements over time will be able to be detected with great precision. Additionally, the system provides data that seeks to analyze behavioral patterns, geospatial activity and a host of other factors that law enforcement deems useful.

Raymond Kelly, the NYPD commissioner, calls the system “a transformative tool.”

Given its comprehensiveness, there is no denying that. It would seem likely, though, especially given the 3,000-plus closed-circuit TV cameras that the city is using to watch residents constantly — with that coverage being progressively expanded — that a growing number of people might also reasonably regard the development as being just a bit worrisome.

Source: Crain’s New York Business, “NYPD, Microsoft launch crime-tracking system,” Ian Thomas, Aug. 8, 2012