Berkeley City Council Should Approve Groundbreaking Surveillance Ordinance

A coalition of civil rights and privacy organizations, today called on the Berkeley City Council to approve a powerful new law aimed at protecting privacy rights. The Ordinance would create a thorough legally enforceable use policy with built in safeguards to ensure protection of civil liberties and the security of data.

It would require that all surveillance technology proposals first undergo a public discussion to determine the potential benefits, costs, and concerns of such an acquisition and its use in the community. Accountability and ongoing oversight would be maintained with annual reporting requirements that will provide the community with information about how the equipment is being used.

If adopted, Berkeley would be the first city in the nation to enact this type of ordinance. The County of Santa Clara unanimously passed a similar ordinance in 2016, becoming the first entity in the nation to take such an approach.

WHAT: Berkeley City Council Hearing on “Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance”
WHEN: Tuesday, March 13th, 6:00 PM, Action Calendar, Items #27a-c
WHERE: 2134 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

“We applaud the City of Berkeley for being proactive in addressing the concerns around invasive surveillance equipment, and also the fear that the Trump administration may use local law enforcement data for illegitimate purposes, such as the targeting of non-criminal immigrants,” said Brian Hofer, a member of the Berkeley Police Review Commission subcommittee that helped draft the ordinance.

“Law enforcement shouldn’t be able to acquire surveillance technology in secret, yet it happens every day. Our local elected leaders must be empowered to intervene,” said Tessa D’Arcangelew, of the ACLU of Northern California. “The people of Berkeley have the right to reject dangerous surveillance technologies before law enforcement agencies can acquire them.”

“Given the President’s rhetoric of increased surveillance of mosques, the Muslim community is particularly concerned with the unfettered use of surveillance technology and how it’s being shared,” said Sameena Usman, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Francisco Bay Area Office (CAIR-SFBA). “A strong use policy would ensure that our civil liberties and privacy will be protected.”