NYC Mayor Says ‘Big Brother’ Is ‘Protecting You’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams responded to the criticism of increased digital surveillance in the city saying that it was a positive use of technology.

  • According to Adams, the increased use of facial recognition technology is a necessity, despite its criticism, saying that “Big Brother is protecting you” not just “watching you.”
  • “It blows my mind how much we have not embraced technology, and part of that is because many of our elected officials are afraid. Anything technology they think, ‘Oh it’s a boogeyman. It’s Big Brother watching you,'” Adams told Politico. “No, Big Brother is protecting you.'” 
  • The mayor made the comments in response to elected officials who expressed concern that using facial recognition could lead to the overreach of invasive surveillance. 
  • Advocates for facial recognition claim the technology can flag dangerous individuals when they enter public spaces who are recognized in the system.
  • But the Head of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Albert Fox Cahn, has warned that the technology could be used to weaponize “every aspect of dissent in the city,” as it is in communist countries like China. 
  • “At present, a Chinese citizen will need to show his or her ID card while applying for a landline or the internet,” the Daily Mail reported. “The facial recognition test is set to verify that the ID card belongs to the applicant.”

“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,” Cahn said. 

  • Earlier this week, popular social media app TikTok was prohibited on government mobile devices over security and privacy concerns. 
  • “The Committee on House Administration has authorized the CAO Office of Cybersecurity to initiate the removal of TikTok Social Media Service from all House managed devices,” a notice from the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer read. 
  • “House staff are NOT allowed to download the TikTok app on any House mobile devices. TikTok is NOT allowed on House mobile devices. If you have the TikTok app on your House mobile device, you will be contacted to remove it,” the notice continued. 
  • Earlier in the year, the CAO warned that the office did not recommend the app and deemed it as a “high-risk” security threat to its users.
  • “TikTok is a Chinese-owned company, and any use of this platform should be done with that in mind,” the CAO said. “The ‘TikTok’ mobile application has been deemed by the CAO Office of CyberSecurity to be a high-risk to users due to its lack of transparency in how it protects customer data, its requirement of excessive permissions, and the potential security risks involved with its use.”