Max Isaacs Urges New Zealand Police to Reconsider Ties with Axon
American Attorney’s Concerns about Axon
Max Isaacs, an American attorney, has voiced his concerns to the New Zealand police regarding their reliance on Axon, an American taser and drone supplier. As the New Zealand police force plans to upgrade their existing Axon tasers to newer, longer-range models, Isaacs’s concerns seem particularly pertinent. Moreover, the New Zealand police also use an Axon system known as evidence.com, which serves as a repository for footage from taser cameras and interview recordings.
Axon is a significant provider of body-worn cameras for police forces in the US and globally. However, the New Zealand police recently rejected these cameras, raising questions about the future of their relationship with Axon.
The Ethics of Axon’s Product Development
Isaacs, who is associated with New York University’s Policing Project and was an advisor to Axon’s former independent ethics board, expressed doubts about Axon’s commitment to ethical product development. His concerns stem from a proposal Axon presented in 2022 to mount tasers on drones for deployment in schools as a response to mass shootings. This proposal led to the resignation of the ethics board and sparked controversy. Despite the backlash, Axon has confirmed its intention to continue with the project.
Implications for New Zealand
While it remains unlikely that New Zealand will receive drones equipped with tasers, Isaacs views this development as a cautionary tale. He emphasises that Axon should pay more attention to the potential civil rights and civil liberties damages its products could cause. Additionally, he voices concerns about the data platform, evidence.com. While undoubtedly useful, this platform enables police to collect extensive information on citizens, particularly when coupled with other surveillance technologies.
Surveillance Technologies: A Warning to the Public
Isaacs also warns the New Zealand public about other surveillance technologies currently being adopted by US police departments. These technologies include facial recognition systems, aerial drones, and robots. He poses the question of whether we want to live in a society where police drones and robots patrol our streets.
Plans to Expand the Use of Evidence.com
In 2022, police documents indicated intentions to expand the use of evidence.com. However, the police recently stated that they would not be proceeding with this expansion. The decision comes amidst ongoing discussions about the ethical implications of such technologies and their potential impact on civil liberties.
Axon has been contacted for a response to these issues. As the debate continues, it underlines the need for a careful and considered approach to the adoption of new technologies by law enforcement agencies.
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