For years, the NYPD used a “surveillance slush fund” for a variety of policing tech with no public oversight – underneath a shadowy cope with metropolis officers that saved gear utilized in “confidential operations” secret.
Newly launched paperwork reveal the New York Police Division (NYPD) has spent not less than $159 million in public cash since 2007, by way of a “Particular Bills” fund, on probably invasive surveillance instruments like facial-recognition software program, predictive policing packages, “stingray” cellphone trackers – and even vans fitted with X-ray machines to identify weapons.
That 12 months, the power entered right into a “memorandum of understanding” (MoU) with the comptroller’s workplace – town’s chief auditing company – and the Workplace of Administration and Finances that allowed it to bypass New York Metropolis council approval and preserve particulars about its expenditures underneath this fund from official scrutiny.
The paperwork, which was made public by civil rights teams Authorized Help Society (LAS) and the Surveillance Know-how Oversight Venture (STOP), consists of contracts, vendor agreements, bids, upkeep requests and particular memos – all of that are closely redacted.
In response to the teams, this flouts the Public Oversight of Surveillance Know-how (POST) Act handed by town council final 12 months that nullified the 2007 MoU and required the NYPD to disclose surveillance-related bills, the way it makes use of these instruments to observe New Yorkers and the way it protects the collected info.
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In response, the NYPD mentioned the paperwork had been launched earlier than POST got here into impact and maintained that “no [other] police division or federal company has gone to the extent of depth and transparency on regulation enforcement instruments used within the subject.”
Nonetheless, STOP government director Albert Fox Cahn countered that the NYPD hid its surveillance spending “to not shield us, however to guard its backside line.”
These applied sciences are costly, invasive, and simply don’t work. However the NYPD isn’t simply losing hundreds of thousands on unproven applied sciences, it’s placing Black and Brown communities in danger. Excessive-tech errors are sometimes simply step one to false arrest, wrongful imprisonment, and being torn away from your loved ones due to a defective algorithm.
Though too blackened-out to disclose how any single software capabilities within the power’s surveillance dragnet over town, the paperwork do checklist the businesses supplying the expertise and the million-dollar contracts they signed.
As an example, the NYPD inked a $6.8 million cope with IDEMIA Options for biometric instruments like facial recognition in 2018. The corporate got here underneath hearth the next 12 months after information emerged that it maintained a database containing particulars of minors, which had been shared by the police power.
In 2014, the division entered right into a five-year contract value over $850,000 with Israel’s largest protection contractor, Elbit Techniques, to “improve” a number of “gadgets and working programs” – the varieties of which have been redacted – “all through” town. The corporate provides surveillance instruments utilized by US border companies, together with cameras and sensors.
BREAKING: S.T.O.P., Authorized Help Society Condemn $159 Million in Secret NYPD Surveillance Contracts, Launch Public Copies
"…the NYPD has hidden its surveillance slush fund from the general public, to not shield us, however to guard its backside line." @FoxCahn https://t.co/xUZxJZml3f
— S.T.O.P.—Surveillance Know-how Oversight Venture (@STOPSpyingNY) August 10, 2021
One other noteworthy expenditure was a three-year, $750,000 award in 2016 to American Science and Engineering for cell X-ray vans, which might scan autos for weapons however have been deemed by well being officers to be a most cancers danger on account of the excessive quantities of radiation emitted.
The NYPD has reportedly used the vans for years however has cited safety causes in its repeated refusals to reveal how and the place they’re deployed. The division has additionally been sued over one other merchandise on the checklist – “stingray” gadgets that mimic cellphone towers and permit cellphone customers to be tracked. The launched paperwork embody contracts signed with the system’s provider, KeyW Company.
In June, Amnesty Worldwide revealed the size of the NYPD’s digicam surveillance – stating that it makes use of facial-recognition tech and greater than 15,000 cameras within the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx to trace folks.
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