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New York lawmakers push 10-point blueprint to crack down on digital surveillance by police

The bills are part of a package in collaboration with the the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

 

Jacob Seitz

Tech

The New York State Legislature introduced a package of bills Monday aimed at banning geofence warrants and police from making fake social media accounts to track suspects.

The bills, launched by a coalition of New York State assemblymembers and senators in collaboration with the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.), provide a 10-point legislative blueprint to turn New York into a “sanctuary state” for surveillance, according to a press release. The package includes “first-in-the-nation bans on geofence warrants” as well as bans on the use of fake police social media accounts

The campaign, “Banning Big Brother: New York’s Surveillance Sanctuary State Blueprint,” was launched Monday at a press conference led by S.T.O.P. and legislators. The rollout took place just one day before Governor Kathy Hochul—who was recently elected to her first full four-year term—is set to deliver her State of the State address.

Hochul has been a proponent of some surveillance, rolling out a plan in September to put cameras on every New York City subway car by 2025. 

“You think Big Brother’s watching you on the subways? You’re absolutely right,” she said at a press conference introducing the policy.

Eric Adams, New York City mayor and a former NYPD officer, has not only dismissed concerns about facial recognition and surveillance—but pushed for it. Over the past year, Adams has promoted cameras and praised facial recognition devices.

“It blows my mind how much we have not embraced technology, and part of that is because many of our electeds are afraid. Anything technology they think, ‘Oh it’s a boogeyman. It’s Big Brother watching you,’” Adams told Politico. “No, Big Brother is protecting you.”

The proposed ban on geofence warrants comes on the heels of concern from national Democrats about the use of geofence data in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling which overturned the national legal right to an abortion. The Federal Communications Commission last summer launched a probe into leading mobile carriers in the U.S., asking them to share data collection practices and privacy measures with the FCC.

Lawmaker tweeted their support for the packages after it was announced.

“Today I joined advocates & colleagues to launch an anti-surveillance package of bills. My bill w/  @JuliaCarmel__ would prohibit government’s use of biometric surveillance like facial recognition which is 100x more likely to misidentify & criminalize women of color than white men,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas 9D).

“Introduced my first bill today, the Personal Privacy Protect Law (PPPL) Modernization Act with @harvey4NY. This bill would limit law enforcement’s ability to access our personal information without a warrant. As chair of Internet & Tech, I’m excited to be kicking off our work,” State Senator Kristen Gonzalez wrote.

“Mass surveillance upholds white supremacy and threatens civil liberties and democracy,” Gonzalez continued. “Thank you to the STOP coalition and all the other lead sponsors for putting this package of bills together to make New York the first surveillance sanctuary state in the country.”

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