The scope of Orwellian surveillance is mind boggling. Even more disturbing is the fact people willingly give up their freedom and allow this intrusive behavior to continue and grow. Even such supposedly benign groups as Next Door are the vehicle for neighbors to snoop and tattle on one another. It’s scary and indicative of the public mind set in the Trump era.
Excerpted from San Francisco Examiner 5.7.2019
“Right now, there is a pressing need to act,” said Matt Cagle, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “The harms of unchecked surveillance are very real and they often impact immigrant and communities of color disproportionately.”
San Francisco residents may soon have more say over how and when The City government conducts surveillance.
Under legislation introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, city departments will have to create plans for how they use surveillance technology and win approval from the Board of Supervisors before proceeding.
“This is really about giving policy makers the information that they need to safeguard these important technologies from abuse — not from their use, but from their abuse,” Peskin said.
A number of other Bay Area agencies and cities includng Oakland have similar laws in place for the oversight of surveillance. The legislation has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
Not everyone was in favor on Monday. The citizen group Stop Crime SF raised a number of concerns, arguing the proposal could jeopardize the Police Department’s use of surveillance footage from residents and private businesses.
But Peskin and other board members said this was a misunderstanding, and Peskin amended the legislation Monday to clarify that the Police Department can both receive and use the footage from residents and businesses.
Under the proposal, departments would have 60 days to submit to the Committee on Information Technology their existing inventory of surveillance technology, which they must post on their website. The city departments must also within 120 days submit use policies to the board for approval to continue using surveillance technologies.
To purchase new surveillance technology, the departments must submit to COIT a “Surveillance Impact Report” that offers details like cost, how it works, how it has fared in other places and how they will protect civil liberties.