Domain Awareness System: An End To Crime Or Gross Invasion Of Privacy?

The Domain Awareness System has experienced early success for Microsoft and the New York Police Department (NYPD), according to a report from The Associated Press on Wednesday, February 20.

The surveillance system, known around NYPD headquarters as “the dashboard,” has been in use for close to one year and in August 2012 aided police in collecting evidence on a shooting at the Empire State Building that had originally been attributed to multiple assailants.

Using the dashboard’s network of “more than 3,000 security cameras citywide, license plate readers, and portable radiation detectors,” police were able to determine a lone gunman was responsible, the AP stated.

Jessica Tisch, NYPD Counterterrorism Director of Planning and Policy, said the system worked “incredibly well,” adding, “It was created by cops for cops.”

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said the program was “a one-stop shop for law enforcement.” But Amitai Etzioni, professor of international relations at George Washington University, isn’t so sure.

In a January op-ed for The Huffington Post, Amitai said the Domain Awareness System should be renamed “Big Eye” and called it an invasion of privacy “much greater than anything we have seen so far.”

“There is very little you do out of doors 24/7 that it cannot find out and the information it garners is kept in its archives for at least 30 days,” Amitai wrote, pointing out the dashboard can tell “which political party election HQ you visited, where you prayed, and whom you met with.”

A general mistrust of police as seen in the Christopher Dorner case could amplify fears like Amitai’s in the months ahead as Microsoft and the NYPD begin rolling out the system to the rest of the country.

(The NYPD helped develop it and stands to gain 30 percent of any profits collected from its sale.)

Do you agree with the Domain Awareness System and its ability to fight crime, or is “the dashboard” a major blow to personal liberties?

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]

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