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NYPD Testing Google Glass For Patrol, Surveillance

The NYPD says it is testing a few Google Glass specs to see how they aide in surveillance and patrol efforts.
Posted at 12:09 PM, Feb 06, 2014

​Google Glass is only available to select applicants, and apparently the New York City Police Department is among them.

The law enforcement agency's intelligence and analytics unit unofficially announced it is currently testing the specs for surveillance purposes. (Via Google,  VentureBeat)

An NYPD official told VentureBeat the agency is "seeing if [the glasses] have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes."

It’s not entirely clear how the glasses will be used. A writer for ZDNet speculates law enforcement officers could stream surveillance footage back to headquarters or use facial recognition software, even though Google has banned such software from its store.

And this isn’t the first time the NYPD has involved major tech companies for its surveillance purposes.


Back in 2012, the NYPD and Microsoft built the Domain Awareness System to gather surveillance data in counterterrorism efforts. (Via The Telegraph)

But some are questioning whether the tech specs are ethical, especially as the NYPD has recently been criticized for some of its information-gathering practices.

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program faced legal challenges for unfairly targeting blacks and Hispanics who were stopped and questioned on the street. (Via ABC)

And since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD’s intelligence unit has conducted spying operations on mosques and Muslims in New York — even labeling them as terrorist organizations. (Via Press TV)

And the specs could be an invasion of privacy. A writer for AllVoices says the glasses could allow officers to simply spot a face in the crowd or even record wrongful arrests that would possibly be made public.

Google says it is not working with law enforcement agencies, so the NYPD likely obtained the glasses through its Explorer Program. Glass' public release is set for sometime this year.