Community Support for Berkeley’s Surveillance Regulation Ordinance.

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 Background: The Berkeley City Council will consider a Surveillance Regulation ordinance that Oakland Privacy and its partners have been working on for a year and a half on December 5th.

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        McGee – Spaulding Neighbors in Action: The Power of One Neighborhood Rising:

University Avenue l Sacramento Street l MLK Boulevard l Dwight Way

November 29, 2017

To: Honorable Members of the Berkeley City Council
Kate Harrison, Ben Bartlett, Lori Droste,
Kriss Worthington, Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Linda Maio,
Susan Wengraf, Sophie Hahn, Cheryl Davila.
To: Council@cityofberkeley.info

From: McGee-Spaulding Neighbors in Action.

We write to you in strong support of the Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance introduced last year by Councilperson Worthington, and recommended unanimously to you by both the Peace and Justice and Police Review Commissions. This item is currently scheduled to appear before you during your December 5th meeting, as Item 23a.

McGee-Spaulding Neighbors in Action is a Berkeley neighborhood group that meets regularly to discuss and advocate for progressive values, responsible banking and improved police-community relations in our neighborhood and Berkeley as a whole.

In a time where technology outstrips our ability to keep up with it, and new and more powerful surveillance equipment and methods (e.g., facial recognition) are being introduced to police forces around the country with rapidity, it is crucial to put in place principles that will allow for public input, guide the adoption of, and provide for the oversight of, any such surveillance technology by the City of Berkeley.  The Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance does just that.  It mandates:

  • City Council approval before the City of Berkeley purchases or acquires any surveillance equipment or software.
  • Informed decision making – an evaluation that the benefits exceed the costs, including civil liberties concerns – and public input before purchase or acquisition.
  • An approved use and privacy policy for the surveillance technology, specifying how and with what restrictions the equipment or software may be used, and how long any data collected by the tech can be stored along with who may access it.
  • Records of use and periodic reporting, so that the public and Council can evaluate the effectiveness of the technology.

The California Constitution goes beyond the United States Constitution in explicitly providing us with a right to privacy. It is vital that this right be preserved, and that Berkeley’s residents and its elected representatives know and approve of any technology in use by the City of Berkeley that potentially infringes on this right.

We urge the City Council to pass this ordinance forthwith. Thank you.

Beverly K. Crawford
Lewis T. Ames, 1604 Addison St., 94703

On behalf of McGee-Spaulding Neighbors in Action.

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