Not long ago we wrote about our support for the City of Berkeley’s proposed Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance. In the time since, conversations like those already underway in the Police Review Commission, Peace and Justice Commission, and Disaster and Fire Safety Commission have continued with city agencies and residents.

Having been sculpted through these conversations and the recommendations of members of the Berkeley community, this ordinance represents the civil rights and civil liberties values of the people of the City of Berkeley.

To inform the City Council as they consider this ordinance, Berkeley residents may submit written comments on its adoption through an online forum. In addition, community members are encouraged to email the City Council directly.

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As we stated in our letter of support submitted to the Berkeley City Council by EFF and more than a dozen local groups and national civil rights organizations:

The ordinance is straightforward: it requires essential community control, transparency, and accountability for all surveillance technology proposals, and it ensures the public has the opportunity to learn about the civil rights and civil liberties impact of surveillance technologies before city agencies acquire them.

With the adoption of this bill, the power to decide whether these invasive spying technologies are acquired, and how they are utilized, will be protected from unilateral decisions by agency executives, and instead placed in the hands of elected City Council members. More importantly, all residents will be provided an opportunity to comment on proposed surveillance technologies before representatives decide whether to adopt them.