NYPD’s Powers of Threat Perception
The New York Police Department (NYPD) unveiled a new “Domain Awareness System” on Wednesday that combines and analyzes many streams of information to track possible criminals and terrorists. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “This new system capitalizes on new powerful policing software that allows police officers and other personnel to more quickly access relevant information gathered from existing cameras, 911 calls, previous crime reports, and other existing tools and technology.” The program illustrates the growing power of data analytics technology to support counterterrorism and law enforcement, and it raises questions about the appropriate limits and oversight of those processes.
Concerns Over Surveillance
The fiercest debates about domestic counterterrorism since the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks have generally focused on the methods by which government collects information. At the federal level, for example, the controversy surrounding the NSA’s warrantless surveillance programs in 2005 was intense. In New York City, the NYPD’s reported programs to gather information on ethnic and religious communities (AP) have spurred demands from some quarters for tighter restrictions and oversight. Recently, public and congressional attention has shifted to emergent technologies such as unmanned drone aircraft and the pervasiveness of location-tracking signals in mobile electronic devices and, again, the authority of government to collect information on individuals.