Privacy SOS

Surveillance metropolis: NYC’s ‘Ring of Steel’

After 9/11, New York City police seized upon the climate of fear to institute draconian surveillance policies, including a rapid expansion of CCTV coverage, license plate trackers and other high tech snooping tools. The department operates a number of spy centers, one of which, The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, is staffed by security representatives from major financial firms, who monitor thousands of surveillance feeds alongside uniformed cops.

Back in 2009 when the "Ring of Steel" project was first announced to the public, the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union had serious concerns:

Modeled after London’s often-criticized “Ring of Steel” surveillance network, the system, including its Midtown extension, is expected to cost the public about $124 million. But other than its price tag, little is known is known about the surveillance program.
“The NYPD must not spend vast amounts of public money blanketing downtown and Midtown Manhattan in surveillance cameras without any public discussion of its plans and without clear privacy protections,” Lieberman said. “Our elected lawmakers need to step in and subject this entire surveillance system to a thorough public review.”
Three years later, the system is in full effect. Watch the video above for a taste of what that feels like for activists and ordinary people in New York.
Welcome to the surveillance state.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.