Setting up the Modern Day Vigil

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They might be the smartest species to ever walk the earth, but despite everything, human beings just cannot keep themselves from making a mistake. This has already been reinforced quite a few times throughout our history, with each testimony practically forcing us to look for a defensive cover. We will, however, solve our conundrum in most fitting way possible, and we’ll do so by bringing dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across each and every area was a game-changer, as it instantly concealed our many shortcomings. Now, the utopia you’d expect from such a development did arrive, but at the same time, it was all pretty short-lived. Talk about what caused this sudden death, the answer has to keep technology at the heart of everything. You see, the moment technology got its layered nature to take over the scene, it allowed every individual an unprecedented chance to exploit others for their own benefit. In case this didn’t sound devastating enough, the whole runner soon began to materialize on such a massive scale that it expectantly overwhelmed our governing forces and sent them back to square one. After spending a lengthy spell in the wilderness, though, it seems like the regulatory contingent is finally ready to make a comeback. However, it won’t do the job by diminishing technology’s stronghold. Instead, the authorities want to leverage the creation’s capabilities for better governance, and that’s exactly what we can learn from NYPD’s latest move.

The New York Police Department has officially announced its decision to join Ring’s community app, Neighbors. As per certain reports, the department will use the app’s neighborhood watch tool to respond to users’ crime and safety concerns, post public notices, and ask for help in regards to “active police matters.” It’s a landmark move by all accounts, considering how Ring’s extensive reach, along with maps and timelines that can pinpoint crime sprees and trends, will guide the department in obtaining footage of criminal activity it wouldn’t have otherwise.

“The ability to interact with New Yorkers – often in real time – adds to the comprehensive crime-fighting strategies already employed by the NYPD in its relentless efforts to keep our city and everyone in it safe,” said Keechant L. Sewell, Police Commissioner, NYPD. “True public safety is a shared responsibility, and this tool stands to further advance the collective work of our police and all the people we serve toward reaching that worthy ideal.”

However, as good as it sounds, the decision has already witnessed some strong pushback, mainly from Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP). According to STOP, a public-private surveillance partnership of this sort will likely promote police violence, racial profiling, and vigilantism. In order to back up these concerns, STOP‘s Executive Director, Albert Fox Cahn referred to a recent incident where Ring doorbell notification got a father and son to shoot a delivery woman, who had just dropped off a package at the wrong address. Now, even if we deem it as a one-off incident, all those privacy concerns about the app still remain very much alive.

Ring, on its part, has tried to ease the stated concerns by claiming that the users are not necessitated to share footage, but it still doesn’t rule out how the company might be collecting such information without anyone’s knowledge.

“Most New Yorkers would second guess installing these home surveillance tools, if they understood how easily these systems could be used against them and their families by police,” said Albert Fox Cahn.

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