The eyes that see all 15,000 New York surveillance cameras


A new video by the human rights organization Amnesty International stages the locations of more than 15,000 cameras used by the New York Police Department, both for routine surveillance and in facial recognition research. A 3D model shows the 200-meter range of a camera, part of a sweeping pit that captures the involuntary movements of nearly half of the city’s residents, placing them at risk for incorrect identification. The group says it is the first to map the locations of so many cameras in the city.

Amnesty International and a team of volunteer researchers have mapped out cameras that can feed NYPDs much criticized facial recognition systems in three of the city’s five neighborhoods – Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx – found 15,280 in all. Brooklyn is the most watched, with more than 8,000 cameras.

An Amnesty International video shows how New York’s surveillance cameras work.

“You’re never anonymous,” says Matt Mahmoudi, the AI ​​researcher who directs the project. The NYPD used the cameras in almost 22,000 facial recognition research since 2017, according to NYPD documents obtained by the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a New York privacy group.

“Whether you’re participating in a protest, walking to a particular neighborhood, or even just grocery shopping, your face can be traced by facial recognition technology using images from thousands of camera spots in New York,” says Mahmoudi .

Cameras are often placed at the top of buildings, at streetlights and at intersections. The city itself has thousands of cameras; in addition, private companies and homeowners often granting access to the police.

Police can compare the faces captured by these cameras with criminal databases to search for potential suspects. Earlier this year, the NYPD was required to disclose details of their facial recognition systems for public comment. But those disclosures do not include the number or location of the cameras, or any details of how long the data is stored or with whom the data is shared.

Amnesty International’s team found that the cameras are often grouped in non-white majority neighborhoods. NYC’s most watched neighborhood is East New York, Brooklyn, where the group found 577 cameras in less than 2 square miles. More than 90 percent of East New York residents they are not white, according to city data.

Facial recognition systems they often perform less accurately on darker skins than lighter skins. In 2016, researchers at Georgetown University found that police departments throughout the country used facial recognition to identify potential non-white suspects rather than their white counterparts.

In a statement, an NYPD spokesman said the department never arrests anyone “just on the basis of a facial recognition game,” and uses only the tools to investigate “a suspect or suspects in connection with the case.” ‘investigation of a particular crime’.

“Where images are captured in or near a specific crime, the comparison of a suspect’s images can be done against a database that includes only mug shots legally kept in law enforcement records. based on previous arrests, ”the statement says.

Amnesty International is releasing the accompanying paper and videos as part of its #BantheScan campaign urging city officials to ban the use of tool police in front of city hall primaries over later this month. May, Vice ask the candidates for mayor if they support a facial recognition ban. While most did not respond to the inquiry, candidate Dianne Morales told the publication she supports a ban, while candidates Shaun Donovan and Andrew Yang suggested checking for a disparate impact before deciding on any regulation.

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