New York Civil Liberties Union Raises Surveillance Concerns

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is raising concerns with regards to the wireless smart city technology system being installed in the Village of Great Neck, connecting all of the LED lights in the area to a central computer, which has the capability for both audio and video surveillance.

“[NYCLU Technology Fellow Daniel Schwarz] described the many ethical and technological issues associated with these wireless systems,” explained Amy Glass, PhD, a Great Neck resident. “Although the advertising hype emphasizes increases in efficiency, the hidden agenda of these systems is the collection of massive amounts of data about the daily lives and habits of the citizens. Several important questions arise, such as: how reliable is the system? Who owns the data? Where is it stored? How safe is it from being hacked? Who will be allowed to access this data? For what purposes will the data be used?”

The NYCLU expressed further concern about the seriousness for citizens to be taking part in these smart cities projects without awareness or consent. According to Schwarz, once the system is in place, an individual homeowner cannot opt out.

Great Neck resident Judy Shore Rosenthal stated, “Great Neck residents are taking part, unknowingly, in a 10-month pilot program of new devices and applications with the intention of collecting data. It became instantly apparent to many in the room that our mayor and, in fact, no Great Neck mayor has the type of professional expertise to have taken this on. This is highly sophisticated technology, so our leaders are in the dark even as they sign up for it. This is dangerous for their reputation and our citizen protection. The irony is, we are so uninformed as a community that we don’t know enough to be concerned about this topic of smart cities. That’s how our leaders get away with the implementation.”