New York City Mayor Eric Adams responded to criticism over increasing the use of facial recognition technology by declaring, “Big Brother is protecting you!”
Adams made the comments in response to elected officials who expressed concerns that using such technology could lead to an all-pervasive surveillance state.
Blaming his predecessor Bill de Blasio, Adams asserted that New Yorkers felt they were living in a “state of lawlessness” and that his priority was to “stabilise” the situation.
Facial recognition technology uses surveillance cameras to flag up individuals who appear on databases of criminal suspects when they enter certain public locations, although the technology is far from perfect.
“We will also move forward on using the latest in technology to identify problems, follow up on leads and collect evidence — from facial recognition technology to new tools that can spot those carrying weapons, we will use every available method to keep our people safe,” Adams previously asserted.
The Democrat also brazenly suggested that mass surveillance wasn’t a chilling slippery slide, but in fact a good thing.
“It blows my mind how much we have not embraced technology, and part of that is because many of our electeds are afraid. Anything technology they think, ‘Oh it’s a boogeyman. It’s Big Brother watching you,’” he told Politico. “No, Big Brother is protecting you.”
As in George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian classic, Adams presumably thinks that New Yorkers will learn to ‘love Big Brother’.
Albert Fox Cahn, the head of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, responded by warning that facial recognition technology would be weaponized to crack down on “every aspect of dissent” in the city.
“These are technologies that would be chilling in anyone’s hands. But to give an agency with such a horrifying record of surveillance abuse even more power, at a time when they face dwindling oversight, is a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Civil liberties advocates have warned that making facial recognition technology ubiquitous could lead to a Minority Report-style society where everyone, whether they have a criminal record or not, is tracked everywhere they go.
In China, authorities expanded the use of the tech as a form of permission slip to decide whether citizens are allowed to get online, an extension of the Communist state’s social credit score program.