April 11, 2011 | By Eva Galperin

EFF to San Francisco Entertainment Commission: Don’t Turn SF into a Police State

UPDATE: At the request of Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco Entertainment Commission has decided to postpone discussion of the proposed rules until its next meeting. EFF will provide more details as they become available.

The city of San Francisco has a long history of political activism and cultural diversity, which could be in danger if the San Francisco Entertainment Commission has their way. The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined civil liberties and privacy groups in criticizing a proposal from the San Francisco Entertainment Commission that would require all venues with an occupancy of over 100 people to record the faces of all patrons and employees and scan their ID’s for storage in a database which they must hand over to law enforcement on request. If adopted, these rules would pose a grave threat to the rights of freedom of association, due process, and privacy in San Francisco.

EFF will also present comments in person at a public hearing on the evening of April 12th. If you are in San Francisco, please attend the hearing and speak out against this dangerous and short-sighted proposal or email your comments to Jocelyn.Kane@sfgov.org. See details.

Events with strong cultural, ideological, and political components are frequently held at venues that would be affected by these rules. Scanning the ID’s of all attendees at an anti-war rally, a gay night club, or a fundraiser for a civil liberties organization would have a deeply chilling effect on speech. Participants might hesitate to attend such events if their attendance were noted, stored, and made available on request to government authorities. This would transform the politically and culturally tolerant environment for which San Francisco is famous into a police state.

We are deeply disappointed in the San Francisco Entertainment Commission for considering such troubling, authoritarian, and poorly thought-out rules. The Commission should reject this attack on our most basic civil liberties. San Francisco cannot hope to remain a hub of cultural and political activity if we are stripped of our civil liberties the moment we walk through the door of a venue.

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