Tuesday, February 5, 2013

NYPD Surveillance of Muslims

The article can be found here:

The rights to privacy and equal treatment before the law are essential human rights, both of which could potentially be violated by the NYPD's excessive surveillance of Islamic residents of the city.

I personally think that the implementation of this surveillance was a good idea. By no stretch of the imagination are all Muslims a threat to this country, however some of the most dangerous threats to this country concentrate themselves around Islam. If the NYPD was not to discriminate against Muslims and spread its surveillance net evenly across the population, the chances of uncovering a plot would be cut drastically.

Ron Kuby summed up the problem nicely when he remarked, "If I over-police, I tread on civil liberties and people complain and file lawsuits. If I under-police, there's a smoking crater in Manhattan and thousands are dead. Gee, what should I do?"

There is no question that this infringes upon their right to privacy. However, I wonder if it also violates their right to equality before the law. Should any of this surveillance result in tickets for minor traffic violations or arrests for drug possession for example, is that really fair? Of course, before the law these are punishable offences, but to keep a much closer eye on one group of people and therefore arrest more of them for these crimes would be discrimination without the excuse of protecting national security.

Pertaining to technology, the article notes the use of databases to track the movements and habits of individual citizens. This is acceptable to most under the reasoning of national security, but still a disturbing step. Every year data becomes cheaper to capture, process, store, and access. If measures are not taken to severely curb the types of data allowed to be collected as well as the reasons for which collection may be permitted in the first place, it could result in a total loss of privacy for the citizen from his or her government.

I mentioned earlier that I agreed with the surveillance program's inception, but one fact makes me disagree with its continued existence: it has never lead to a terror investigation. The degradation of civil (and Human) rights is a high price to pay for nothing.

1 comment:

  1. I too would like to see an investigation into domestic terrorism before our government starts infringing on the right to privacy.