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Community Control of Police Spy Tech in Oakland

Oakland could become the next community in California to adopt an open and rigorous vetting process for police surveillance technology.

All too often, government executives unilaterally decide to adopt powerful new surveillance technologies that invade our privacy, chill our free speech, and unfairly burden communities of color. These intrusive and proliferating tools of street-level surveillance include drones, cell-site simulators, surveillance cameras, and automated license plate readers.

On Tuesday, Oakland’s Public Safety Committee will vote on the “Surveillance and Community Safety Ordinance,” a breakthrough slate of transparency requirements drafted by the city’s two-year-old Privacy Advisory Commission. EFF strongly supports these reforms. We sent a letter backing the ordinance last week, and we testified before the Privacy Commission earlier this year.

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Under the proposed ordinance, the power to decide whether or not to adopt new surveillance technologies would rest with the Oakland City Council. Most importantly, the ordinance would provide the general public with an opportunity to comment on proposed surveillance technologies, and the use policies for these technologies, before the City Council decides whether to adopt them. This will ensure community control over decision-making about these powerful spying technologies.

EFF commends Oakland Privacy for leading this critical effort in Oakland. EFF has supported similar efforts for Santa Clara County, BART, and Palo Alto.

If you live in California, email your state legislator to support S.B. 21, a similar bill that would mandate, on a statewide basis, community control of police surveillance technology.

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