Amid great fanfare, the New York Police Department recently rolled out technology in Brooklyn and the Bronx that will allow officers to pinpoint the exact location of gunfire and transmit the information to investigators, reports The New York Times.
“Today, we are rolling out cutting edge technology to make the city safer, to make our neighborhoods safer, to keep our officers safer,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an appearance with police commissioner William J. Bratton to announce the initiative, according to the Times. “This gunshot detection system is going to do a world of good in terms of going after the bad guys.
Problem is, the technology – dubbed ShotSpotter – may have microphones so sensitive that they can record private conversations, a clear violation of the 4th Amendment, says the American Civil Liberties Union according to Fusion.net.
“We are always concerned about secondary uses of technology that is sold to us for some unobjectionable purpose and is then used for other purposes,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told Take Part. “If [ShotSpotter] is recording voices out in public, it needs to be shut down.”
ShotSpotter officials brushed off the concerns, saying they have never manifested as a problem in the past, according to the Independent Journal Review.
“Unless someone is yelling loudly enough to be heard in public, and also doing so within two seconds before or four seconds after a loud, explosive acoustic incident, the audio will be flushed from the sensor’s buffer and overwritten. The simple fact is that there has never been a case of a private conversation overheard or monitored by any ShotSpotter sensor anywhere at any time. Period.”
Still, New York City lawmakers are unwilling to take a chance. New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James has “introduced legislation to keep the technology in check,” reports the Independent Journal Review.
Letitia James, who is a public advocate for NYC has introduced a bill to the city council, which would require quarterly reports on the data gathered by the microphone system.
Between Homeland Security and the NYPD, do you think New Yorkers have any privacy left? Sound off below…
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