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Secret Cameras Found In Herald Square Station

01.19.15 Prachi Gupta

Days after a Redditor found cameras hidden in New York’s Herald Square subway station, the New York Post investigated and confirmed that there are “at least six hidden cameras” embedded among the “ubiquitous domed video-surveillance cameras.”

Though one source in the MTA described the cameras as “antiquated,” as they date back to the 1990s, the source said, “They are covert cameras for high-priority areas or high crime.” Additionally, “they record, but can be monitored real-time if it’s deemed necessary.” The agency did not reveal where the feed is transmitted to or what other subway stations may have them, and some of the staffers that the Post didn’t even know of their existence.

According to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, the agency has other, similarly covert “enhanced equipment,” though he did not specify what it is used for, or how much equipment there is.

The unmarked cameras blend in with the pipes and infrastructure, and are positioned to film people at eye level, raising the concerns of civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel:

“The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to adhere to reasonable and narrow exceptions to privacy concerns,” he said. “These cameras obliterate the privacy concern — what you have is a vacuum-cleaner sweep — they sweep up everything.

“My instinct is that the government should be forthcoming with what it’s doing and not deceptive,” he added.

UPDATE: When ANIMAL reached out to the MTA for comment via email, Ortiz responded to the Post’s report:

These cameras were installed in the early 1990’s to specifically target MetroCard vending machine vandals (a key fact that the Post story selectively omits). Some are active, others are not.

(Photo: J.C. Rice/New York Post)