"The NYPD can now photograph the irises of suspects arrested for any reason and they implemented this without any legislative oversight or public discourse," said David Perecman. "There are also no reports on how authorities plan to protect this collected biometric data from misuse."
News of the initiative was first released late last week. Civil libertarians and privacy advocates say the collecting and storing of this data could "put innocent people under permanent suspicion."
"This move by the NYPD is encroaching on civil liberties," top New York lawyer Perecman said. "This type of data collecting is not authorized by any New York statute. Collecting fingerprints is specifically allowed. DNA evidence has had more legislative debate and its usage is only limited to certain types of cases."
A legal review by the NYPD had determined that legislative authorization was not necessary despite the fact that the department's collection of electronic data has been tainted with controversy as recently as this summer. The department was forced to stop electronic storage of names and addresses of people stopped under the stop-and-frisk program but not charged or arrested.
"A new state law was needed to stop the NYPD then, and that may be what we need again now," concluded Perecman. "This new data collection has the potential to lead to some serious violations of civil liberties."
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