New York Governor Announces Plans to Implement Pre-Crime Surveillance, Target Online “Hate”
WHISTLEBLOWING - SURVEILLANCE, 4 Dec 2023
Expanding the scope of a surveillance unit that was established after the 2022 Buffalo mass shooting.
21 Nov 2023 – In a press conference today, New York Governor Kathy Hochul outlined her administration’s aggressive new strategy for combating online “hate” and implementing pre-crime-esque online surveillance.
As part of this approach, New York’s Threat Assessment and Management Teams (TAM teams), which were established in August 2022 in response to the Buffalo mass shooting, will extend their efforts and start targeting speech surrounding the conflict in the Middle East, with a focus on preventing crimes before they occur. TAM teams will be given an additional $3 million investment for their implementation across New York State college campuses.
“We’re creating strategies, first time ever, to help identify hate at the source and prevent crimes before they occur,” Hochul said.
The TAM teams, primarily focused on tracking and stopping violent acts of hate, work in collaboration with mental health professionals. They establish reporting systems for red flags and provide training to identify early warning signs of radicalization. This initiative, while seemingly noble in its intent to protect New Yorkers, raises significant privacy and First Amendment concerns.
In addition to expanding the scope of the TAM teams, Hochul also demanded that social media companies take more aggressive steps to reduce hate on their sites, specifically by expanding their moderation teams and providing greater transparency.
TODAY: New York Governor Kathy Hochul expresses her "indignation" at social media companies not censoring online "hate speech" and demands they take "concrete action." pic.twitter.com/RZGpKWxopW
— Reclaim The Net (@ReclaimTheNetHQ) November 21, 2023
Critics of Hochul’s approach argue that it toes a dangerous line between ensuring public safety and infringing on free speech. The First Amendment, a cornerstone of American democracy, guarantees the right to free expression, including the expression of unpopular or controversial views. While the governor insists that the TAM teams are not targeting innocuous content like Instagram sunset posts or tweets about favorite football teams, the scope of what constitutes hate remains ambiguous.
These concerns are particularly pertinent in relation to Hochul. She has previously claimed that “hate speech” is not protected speech, despite the US Supreme Court unanimously reaffirming that there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hochul also signed a controversial “hateful conduct” law last year, which is currently facing legal challenges and injunctions over free speech concerns.
The focus on surveillance and intervention, especially in the digital space, is also reflective of the ever-expanding specter of mass government surveillance of everything we say and do online.
Hochul has been a big proponent of this constant monitoring. Earlier this month, she revealed that New York had started conducting social media “surveillance efforts” to monitor hate. And the governor is also an advocate of digital IDs — a type of technology that has numerous privacy concerns.
Governor Hochul’s approach reflects a growing trend among policymakers to address the dark side of digital platforms. However, the effectiveness and legality of such measures in protecting citizens while respecting their constitutional rights remain to be seen.
Tom Parker is a founder and lead editor for Reclaim The Net and provides news and analysis on how we can promote free speech, stop censorship, and protect our personal data online. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Hate Speech, Internet, Spying, Surveillance, USA
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