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New York police department is working on setting up license plate readers and cameras throughout Lower Manhattan

New York will soon follow in the footsteps of London’s “ring of steel” by implementing its own Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, reported CNET.  The security initiative will have more than 100 cameras that will monitor cars through Lower Manhattan. 

London's ring of steel entails a network of cameras and roadblocks that are designed to track and deter terrorists.  The images captured by officials have aided in the tracking of suspects of previous threats.

New York's police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, stated last week that department has obtained $25 million toward the project, yet the estimated cost of the plan reaches a hefty $90 million.  Roughly $15 million came from Homeland Security grants and another $10 million came from the city.  At this point, Kelly states that there are enough funds to install roughly 116 license plate readers in fixed and mobile locations over the next few months.

"This area is very critical to the economic lifeblood of this nation," said Kelly in an interview last week with CNET. "We want to make it less vulnerable."

If fully financed, the project will include license plate readers and 3,000 public and private cameras below Canal Street.  There will also be a center staffed by police and private security officers, and roadblocks.

As of now, the license plate readers have been ordered, and the program is still waiting on more funding, hopefully from federal grants.  The entire operation is expected to be in place and running by 2010.

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NYPD - The New "Ministry of Love"?
By Emryse on 7/10/2007 1:04:23 PM , Rating: 3
What London has done within the last decade with regards to homeland security has appalled me and I've been a staunch opponent to security implementations along these lines.

In my opinion, there is a very big difference between a privately owned security camera belonging to a small business or even a corporate office security monitoring infrastructure, and a government-driven surveillance system.

With monitoring cameras owned privately, the government has the right under subpoena or in due course of a formal investigation to solicit the visual feed of a camera where probable cause exists that evidence pertaining to the crime being investigated may be discovered.

However, I don't care how much legislation is enacted, granting these assets to our government is in my opinion a wide invitation for incredible violations of our constitutional rights. As it currently stands, this occurs much too often! As someone above mentioned, who oversees "Big Brother"?

These freedoms to privacy from our government that we give up now, because of how seemingly small or insignificant they appear to be; de-classified documents 50 years from now (if they still maintain any kind of public accountability by then) will show surveillance as the greatest tool for abuse of the power we've so foolishly granted.

Our government can survive only as a system of checks and balances; should we continue to tread this path under the guise of democracy and security, we harm only ourselves.

As a great patriot once said:

"Any society willing to give up a little liberty in order to obtain a little safety, shall lose both and deserves neither." - Ben Franklin

RE: NYPD - The New "Ministry of Love"?
By totallycool on 7/10/2007 1:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
Check out 'V for Vendetta'

Headed towards that future, arent we?

RE: NYPD - The New "Ministry of Love"?
By sviola on 7/10/2007 1:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
You should watch 1984 (or read the book).

By ebakke on 7/10/2007 5:33:08 PM , Rating: 2
If, by reading the original post, you don't think the poster has already read the book... oh, what's the use

RE: NYPD - The New "Ministry of Love"?
By Vanilla Thunder on 7/10/2007 3:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
'Equilibrium' is another movie that explores the same type of ground. It's a seriously overlooked film if you ask me. Check it out.


By nicepnh on 7/18/2007 12:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, Christian Bale was brilliant in that movie. Its really like a blend of Matrix and V for Vendetta. And its waaay underrated.

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RE: NYPD - The New "Ministry of Love"?
By stromgald on 7/10/2007 3:48:09 PM , Rating: 5
Why do you need 'freedom of privacy' in a public place? These cameras are not being pointed in windows or houses. They're pointed at city streets and sidewalks. The Fourth amendment prohibits searches, arrests, and seizures of property without just cause. Unless you want to consider this 'searching', I don't see how this is unconstitutional.

By 91TTZ on 7/11/2007 12:19:37 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you need 'freedom of privacy' in a public place? These cameras are not being pointed in windows or houses. They're pointed at city streets and sidewalks. The Fourth amendment prohibits searches, arrests, and seizures of property without just cause. Unless you want to consider this 'searching', I don't see how this is unconstitutional.

The government has already eroded the protection that the 4th amendment offered us.

Now they can pretty much search you whenever they want, with no probably cause, and they'll claim that what they're doing doesn't violate the 4th amendment.

For instance, have you ever been stuck at a checkpoint that the police have set up on the road? They'll search all the cars going through the checkpoint, even though those people weren't stopped based on any probable cause of wrongdoing. If you dare to turn around to avoid the nuisance, you'll surely be pulled over for "suspicious behavior". Either way, in essence you're forced to prove your innocence which goes against the basic philosophy of US law.

By rushfan2006 on 7/10/2007 4:53:09 PM , Rating: 4
Good post to the extend that you are speaking what you believe in and it was well written IMHO.

But, it almost is toned in the fashion that this is the first time a system like this will be used in the US. Cameras already are, and have been, in used in many areas and cities in the US for years now. Philadelphia is in the process of starting to use them now as well (I mention that city because its close to me).

This isn't anything new.

I know some folks , political advocates if you will (or whatever you want to call them) live their lives getting really charged up and fighting with a passion over all things to do with the government. More power to them - if that's their thing. I myself chose my battles with that sort of thing because I have more enjoyable things I want to spend my free time on doing.

And life is too short to pop a gasket at every single issue, in my view its just not a good way to live.

With that all said - there is no expectation of privacy in any public place or area - and there is no language in any formal government document that grants such expectation - including the Constitution itself.

I'll further suggest that in a case like this where folks worry about what invasions to privacy lie in our future if this is the foundation --- well maybe if crime decreased the government wouldn't look so aggressively at public monitoring. Maybe if people "played by the rules" more, so to speak, didn't cheat, steal, kill, rape, kidnap, etc...Maybe if the younger kids of this world got their ass kicked once in a while for their outrageous, smartass and disrespectful behaviour these days.....MAYBE just MAYBE if we all did our parts....we wouldn't have to look at incrased security measures in our society at all.

But anyway I digress...

By ebakke on 7/10/2007 5:43:20 PM , Rating: 2
With monitoring cameras owned privately, the government has the right under subpoena or in due course of a formal investigation to solicit the visual feed of a camera where probable cause exists that evidence pertaining to the crime being investigated may be discovered.

My immediate thought upon reading this sentence was this:
In the situation you describe, the government is doing all of its fact finding post-crime, or post-incident. Only in what seems to be incredibly rare circumstances would they have enough foresight to be able to do things proactively. And even then, a X-day feed that was subpoenaed may have missed vital information from X+1 days ago.

To me, the point is that this provides both realtime data, and the ability to store data, thus make decisions and inferences on previously observed behavior.

Furthermore, there is a high probability that the cameras or the software connected to them, use some sort of filtering algorithm to block 'noise'. Operators, it would only make sense, would be alerted when something is caught by the software. The University near my home is looking to install cameras of this nature at a very similar cost (per camera) to the NYC program.

RE: NYPD - The New "Ministry of Love"?
By Tuor on 7/10/2007 10:59:28 PM , Rating: 2
Big Brother is watching you.

By theapparition on 7/11/2007 8:11:07 AM , Rating: 2
As a great patriot once said:

"Any society willing to give up a little liberty in order to obtain a little safety, shall lose both and deserves neither." - Ben Franklin

Just FYI, the correct quote is:
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

And constitutional privacy only extends to the home.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 7/12/2007 11:21:22 AM , Rating: 2
There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in publicly displayed personalty like an automobile. So if you take it out in public, it is fair game. If this were not true, then you could suppress the identification of the license plate from a car used in a hold up since there was no warrant to obtain the item. If an officer stops you for a speeding ticket and sees a corpse in your back seat, that is also plain view and is therefore admissable evidence in your murder trial.

The proscription is against unreasonable search and seizure, and plain view is a long established exception. Therefore no legislation is needed to implement this solution.

BTW, "Big Brother" was an intrusion since the cameras were in the characters' homes where there IS constitutional protection against search and seizure.

Checks and Balances is a doctrine that pertains to each branch of government having some control over the other two, not a check or balance of government by the citizenry.

As to BF, no liberty is being given up here. We never had a liberty in plain view items.

By Gul Westfale on 7/10/2007 12:23:48 PM , Rating: 2
how is reading license plates relevant to a nation's economy?

RE: huh?
By zombiexl on 7/10/2007 12:30:57 PM , Rating: 3
So they can catch terrorists ater they blow up wall street and then stick them in a jail where we pay for all of their healthcare, food, etc.

Oh, wait the damage would already be done and we'd have to waste more taxes to house the terrorists.

Maybe this is a first step before to mind readers on the license plate readers?

You know what, i'm confused by this as well...

RE: huh?
By timmiser on 7/10/2007 7:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
You are concerned that putting terrorists in jail is a waste of taxes?

Maybe we shouldn't put a murderer behind bars because the damage is already done and why waste the tax money of having them in jail?

Furthermore, the recent incidents in London are a perfect example of how a survellience system is not only beneficial in fighting crime but helpful in preventing crime.

RE: huh?
By zombiexl on 7/10/2007 8:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
You are concerned that putting terrorists in jail is a waste of taxes?

Last time i checked a bullet in the head would cost a lot less. I'm not saying do nothing, I'm saying do it either before it happens (which license plate scanners won't accomplish) or make the punishment fit the crime.

FWIW I dont believe in life sentences... any crime worth a life sentence is much better served by a few 100k volts, some gas, or a needle in the arm.

RE: huh?
By NT78stonewobble on 7/11/2007 12:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
Well the elderly, the poor, the dumb and so on cost money too. We'd be better off shooting em...

Same with the americans ... we oughta just nuke em and take their ressources...

On a more serious note. Who are you to decide what is wrong and what is right? Do you have the right to take life?

Basically if you believe its ok to kill why wasn't it ok for the murderer to kill? Are you then any better ?

RE: huh?
By Lord 666 on 7/10/2007 1:03:40 PM , Rating: 2
Wall Street and the Financial District are located south of Canal St. He pushing the assumption that license plate readers will protect this financial area.

Don't know how license plate readers would have protected the World Trade Center/Pentagon buildings.

RE: huh?
By Flunk on 7/10/2007 2:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they would have read the jets license plates as they entered the airspace over Manhattan and identified them as a threat theyby launching police ground to air interception missles at the jets.

Obviously the above is a joke, this is designed to combat threats like the london transit bombings, not like the world trade centre incident.

RE: huh?
By mdbusa on 7/11/2007 12:05:40 AM , Rating: 2
they have a database of suspected terrorists along with their vehicle plate numbers etc .. if one is spotted in the wrong place--alarms will go off- also stolen vehicles can be identified, blah blah blah

they need to tackle this at the root cause--islamic extremism and hatred of America-

RE: huh?
By tacorly on 7/11/2007 12:44:34 AM , Rating: 2
If I was a terrorist...I would buy a new car.

To the privacy nuts
By Stan11003 on 7/10/2007 2:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
There is no written or implied right to privacy when you are walking around a public area nor driving on a public street. Essentially a cop looking at license plates, measuring speed with a radar gun or looking for a suspect in crowd all while recording the information in a notebook is normal and allowed. But if you make things easier for everyone and use a machine to do that and save to a database all of sudden its bad. I don't believe in institutionalizing inefficiency in the name of privacy, thats what led to 9/11 terrorist moving so easily in our country. We are telling the police, FBI, CIA and immigration they can't share info because heaven forbid it may make someone nervous, even though it could save lives. Its not like the information is private its not, the government gave you your license and registration for your car. They already know they just want to manage it better.
The irony is that in the private sector there is way less privacy. The office buildings in NYC have tons of cameras and ID scanners. Email and IM traffic is logged and read by IT. All documents are backed up and analyzed, too.

RE: To the privacy nuts
By MonkeyPaw on 7/10/2007 3:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't about privacy, it's about the future. Sure TODAY they plan to use the system to "just catch terrorists," but what of the future? Once you open the door to yet another government-controlled system, you are at the mercy of any political whim from now until eternity. Need an example? Social Security, Medicare, Welfare...I'm sure there's more. None of those programs were designed to be used as they are today, and look at their condition and cost now.

RE: To the privacy nuts
By ebakke on 7/10/2007 5:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
People often neglect to mention that the same power given to the government can always be taken away. There's nothing that says this system must be in place forever, or that 'we' trust the government to do anything other than what it is currently doing. If someone in elected office tries to do something that (enough of) the people don't like, he/she will quickly find out what politics is all about.

Just because we give the government power today, doesn't mean we must do so tomorrow. Military drafts, for example, temporarily require service. Once the need stops, we go back to volunteer enlistment. Or prohibition, for example. We allowed the government to enforce a law for a while, and then decided later that we no longer wanted the government to have that power. Just two simple examples.

RE: To the privacy nuts
By Stan11003 on 7/11/2007 8:53:30 AM , Rating: 2
I agree its all about ideology. Hitler was elected does that mean we stop people from voting?

RE: To the privacy nuts
By rdeegvainl on 7/11/2007 11:16:52 AM , Rating: 1
But how often does the people truly get the chance to remove that power? People more often neglect to mention abuse of power to retain power. We think that we are represented by our elected officials, but they don't see past their own agenda, sure there are a few that do, but the VAST majority think of themselves first, not the people who want to take their power away.

Economic Lifeblood?
By SmokeRngs on 7/10/2007 3:48:32 PM , Rating: 2
"This area is very critical to the economic lifeblood of this nation,"

I think that statement, while true, has nothing to do with the cameras. I believe the correct way to phrase that would be: "These cameras are very critical to increasing the amount in fines coming into the city's coffers."

Cameras, like the police, are nothing more than a reactionary tool. Outside of minor infractions, the cameras will not deter or stop anything. Those that have planned some type of major crime will not allow a camera to stop them and will just include it in their planning. At least the police force has a useful job. A police officer can act and make a difference. A camera can do nothing but take pictures.

I'm not sure about this information and I don't have any of the articles handy, but I believe the camera system in the UK hasn't done much if anything in deterring crime.

Just like cameras at stop lights, I see these cameras as nothing more than an attempt at generating extra revenue for the city.

RE: Economic Lifeblood?
By Netscorer on 7/10/2007 4:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
That's the prelevant logic some people use when they see another push to limit our right to privacy. Think about it. Today it's license readers and for catching terrorists, tomorrow it will be enhanced to facial recognition system and broadened to general police surveilance. Next thing you know your face will come up in Home Security database (we already had too numerous to mention instances of innocent people names coming up in terrorist lists at the airport check-ins) and you will be apprehanded right in the middle of the street at broad daylight and sent off to Guatanamo base where you will spend the next 5 years trying to prove that you are not a terrorist. Sounds unlikely? You wish!

RE: Economic Lifeblood?
By ebakke on 7/10/2007 5:52:37 PM , Rating: 3
The Kool-Aid's plentiful at your house

By knipfty on 7/10/2007 1:49:34 PM , Rating: 1
The cameras can be mounted on police cars or on poles and can read about 30 car plates a minute. When a car is suspect (no insurance, no registration, warrent on the owner, reported stolen, etc), alarms go off and the possible offender gets pulled over. I have no problem with this type of enforcement as it makes traffic enforcement more efficient. There is a problem though...

Each car that is identified, is logged (location, date and time) even if nothing is wrong at that time. The police however save this data forever. They can go back and look up all cars observed in a particular area to help solve crimes later on. And use it for other purposes as they see fit. This I do not like.

RE: Capabililities...
By OrSin on 7/10/2007 2:05:17 PM , Rating: 1
I will get beat up for this but I thing if I'm in public The government has every right to view my actions. Do i think they should be able to sell footage of me kiss my girlfriend the park. NO, but if i did somthing wrong and a camera got me, then its ok. I'm far from a good 2 shoes but really dont monitoring the city streets is not big deal to me. In fact they should add more camera. The number of open air drug markets in the DC area is crazy. Add some carmera and Police that are willing to arrest criminal and I well fell much better.

RE: Capabililities...
By VooDooAddict on 7/10/2007 6:47:24 PM , Rating: 2
And use it for other purposes as they see fit.

What other purposes?

Better traffic flow monitoring?

Depending on the structure of the data this could give some very powerful numbers on traffic flow and work hours while still keeping anonymity for any use other then law enforcement.

If you are concerned that someone will get the data and do something nasty with it ... then you might want to stop using the internet all together. My concern with such a system is that I don't want it to become a automated validation system for licenses/fines/parking tickets. I feel that fines for such offenses are base on the fact that the system only catches people a small % of the time and the likely hood is that when someone is caught they have done the moving or parking violation numerous times. Otherwise people who otherwise never would have gotten tickets will be getting loads of tickets.

This will raise everyone's car insurance premiums even more ... even though the algorithms the insurance company used to raise rates for tickets were based off manual ticket writing.

... I could go on ...

RE: Capabililities...
By 91TTZ on 7/11/2007 12:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
My concern with such a system is that I don't want it to become a automated validation system for licenses/fines/parking tickets.

Now why would the government ever do something like that? I mean it would be low risk and very easy to implement, and would also generate a ton of revenue pleasing the people that oversee the system, but...

Oh come on, you know that this is what it'll really be used for.

I am against initiatives such as this.
By 91TTZ on 7/11/2007 12:30:38 PM , Rating: 2
Initiatives such as this one are sold to the public under the guise of "protection from terrorists". Terrorism is a hot topic in the US right now, so relating your proposal to antiterrorism efforts increases the proposal's chance of passing.

However, I'm concerned about the real use for this system. It usually comes down to money. I'm willing to bet that this antiterrorism system will also run people's license plates to check for expired inspection stickers and other minor traffic violations that warrant pricey tickets. Conveniently, people will receive tickets in the mail making this system a huge revenue generator.

In the end, it'll probably do absolutely nothing to stop terrorism, but will be very effective in further taxing and pestering the public that the system claimed to protect.

By NT78stonewobble on 7/11/2007 1:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
All the anti terrorism motivation aside...

Whats wrong with punishing traffic violations?

Couldn't those people just... uhm... obey the law?

Or is it ok to do other crimes too as long as youre not caught?

for better life
By vladio on 7/10/2007 12:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
The New York Police Department has this week revealed that it is to introduce a new security surveillance system throughout the area of lower Manhattan in order better track criminals and terrorists throughout the city's financial district. More specifically, the NYPD has announced that some 3,000 public and private security cameras will be gradually brought online throughout the wide-ranging system, with 116 car license plate readers also due to be introduced before the close of 2007. Outside the United States, the UK has approximately 4 million surveillance cameras, with the city of London laying claim to 200,000 of that total figure. The linked web of cameras in the English capital, and also across the country, most recently contributed to the tracking and arrests of multiple terror suspects in the unsuccessful July 07 terror attacks on central London and at Glasgow airport -- -- More surveillance cameras, tuffer security, more money to Pentagon, more solders in Iraq and Afghanistan ... but overall safety of our lives is going downnnnnnnnn... If somebody doing something very wrong way, but twise as hard, will it ever be better?!

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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