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NYCLU Statement on NYPD’s Radio Encryption Move

NEW YORK CITY – The New York City Council will hold a hearing today at 1pm about the New York Police Department’s move to encrypt radio transmissions, preventing the press and the public from accessing emergency communications. The New York Civil Liberties Union submitted testimony to the Council and issued the following statement from Senior Privacy and Technology Strategist Daniel Schwarz:

“By encrypting its radio communications, the NYPD is breaking with an almost century-old practice of allowing the press and the public to access information about critical developments in their communities.

“Access to police radios is also a crucial tool for police transparency, allowing for independent coverage of the police killings of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and Eric Garner. It has also been key for public and press scrutiny of police brutality during the 2020 George Floyd protests.

“This latest move to shut out public access to communications and keep New Yorkers in the dark is part of a broader pattern of police secrecy, with the NYPD routinely denying or delaying requests for public records and attempting to shield itself from oversight.

“New Yorkers need more transparency from the NYPD, not less. We urge the City Council to protect long-standing transparency practices in emergency communications, particularly at a moment when our community members are rightly demanding greater oversight of law enforcement.”

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