On Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the people of his city to get over their rapidly dwindling privacy, the Daily News reports:
He acknowledged privacy concerns, but said “you can’t keep the tides from coming in.”
“You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they’ll be cameras everyplace . . . whether you like it or not,” Bloomberg said.
The security measures have drawn scorn from some civil libertarians — but Bloomberg scoffed at privacy concerns on his Friday morning program on WOR-AM.
“The argument against using automation is just this craziness that ‘Oh, it’s Big Brother,’” Bloomberg said. “Get used to it!”
Like his signature “Stop and Frisk” policy, Bloomberg’s declaration that your Fourth Amendment rights are irrelevant has rubbed the ACLU (and anyone paying attention) the wrong way. Particularly Bloomberg’s insistence that drones are no big deal:
“It’s scary,” Bloomberg said. “But what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean intellectually I have trouble making a distinction. And you know you’re gonna have face recognition software. People are working on that.”
So there’s no difference between a camera pointing at street level and a flying camera that can silently peek into your window on the 20th floor?
While I’m not rabidly anti-drone, I have great misgiving about the police using them in a city like New York. There’s a world of difference between a helicopter flying overhead and a drone parking itself outside of your window and watching you walk around in your apartment with a high definition camera. That Bloomberg doesn’t see a problem with that clearly stems from the insulation a billionaire enjoys. After all, no one is going to park a drone outside of HIS window and spy on him, are they? And if they did, he has the money and connections to punish them for it.
Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t see how such a future can be stopped but hopes that Peeping Tom laws would mitigate some of the damage. Convenient but unless those laws are strictly enforced and deal out harsh penalties, I find that very unlikely. And, not for nothing, I wouldn’t trust the NYPD with that kind of power to begin with. Does anyone, including Bloomberg really believe that the police won’t just “have a little fun” watching that attractive blonde on the thirtieth floor take a shower? When the inevitable scandal inevitably breaks, will anyone be punished in any meaningful way? Remember, this is the same NYPD that closes ranks around police brutality and flat out murder. It’s inconceivable that’ll they’ll police themselves in this matter.
Just because a technology is cheap and powerful does not mean that we have to embrace it and the police state that it represents. RFID technology is becoming cheap and powerful as well. Does that mean we should just “get used to it” when the next King of New York decides it’s good for public safety? There’s a balance to be had between security and privacy. Mayor Bloomberg obviously hasn’t bothered to look for it.