Criminally Social? NYPD Is Keeping An Eye On You.
Worried about whether or not your boss, ex-girlfriend (or ex- boyfriend) children or parents are monitoring what you say online? It would appear that not only will you have to limit your social faux pas, these days you might have to make sure what you’re saying isn’t illegal.
Given the prevalent (and successful) use of social networks and Blackberry’s messaging service by rioters to coordinate efforts and avoid law enforcement, this could appear reasonable to some, as long as the monitoring is used to catch criminal elements. The trend, however, seems to have spread to the other side of the pond.
New York City Assistant Police Commissioner Kevin O’Connor has recently been placed over NYPD’s new Juvenile Justice Unit. This unit has a variety of responsibilities, including a new charge to - you guessed it - monitor Facebook and Twitter activity for nefarious activities.
Of course, we’re not talking about the cops banging on your door if you mentioned you jaywalked yesterday at lunch, watered your lawn on the wrong day, or played music last night until late. According to O’Connor, the unit is interested in preventing far more dangerous crimes.
O’Connor’s previous stint with the NYPD was in gang crime prevention, as well as online investigations. His unit has caught sexual predators who had used online chat rooms to solicit sex with underaged children. His work has also resulted in the arrests of a variety of gang members who had boasted online about shooting someone.
Online investigations have become increasingly high profile as of late, and highly important to the NYPD, as evidenced by O’Connor’s move from the rank of Police Lieutenant to Assistant Commissioner - a very unusual and large step-up.
Expect a number of smaller police departments throughout America to keep a close eye on what NYPD is doing, and requesting more information on how they can monitor their citizenry as well. Someday soon, they will likely be keeping an eye online on you (and all of your neighbors.)
What are your thoughts? Does this trend alarm you, or do you feel it is the duty and responsibility of our police departments to look everywhere for criminal activity and respond to it when found?