In recent weeks Oakland Privacy (Motto: “I’ve been watching you watch me…”), nee Occupy Oakland Privacy Working Group, formed in the summer of 2013, has had, in conjunction with other privacy and civil liberties advocates, some notable successes and catastrophe prevention interventions.
– In early February the City of Alameda halted its police department’s plan to buy Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) equipment from Vigilant, a company which had come under fire for providing its data to ICE.
– In early March Oakland Privacy revealed that ICE agents participated in Urban Shield, even though they were not listed as participants – photos obtained from public records requests showed them at the event in uniform.
– The City of San Pablo was about to purchase 154 more surveillance cameras – almost one for every hundred residents total – from the same problematic company Vigilant, without any debate. On March 19th letters to the Council and testimony at City Council that night resulted in at least a pause for public input before purchase.
And then there are Oakland Privacy’s two biggest recent accomplishments, successes in a campaign that has been going on around the Bay Area for more than two years. That campaign is the passage of local Surveillance Equipment Regulation Ordinances (SERO), and ultimately a statewide ordinance. The template ordinance (it is tailored to each municipality and County) brings transparency, public debate, written policies on use, and a vote to approve or reject, for the acquisition of all surveillance equipment.
– On March 13th, the Berkeley City Council passed its first reading of its version of the SERO. It should become law by the end of April.
– On March 20th, the Davis City Council passed its SERO first reading as well, a SERO which has even stronger language than the Berkeley version.
Similar ordinances are in the legislative process in Oakland and at BART, and hopefully soon in more jurisdictions around the Bay Area. Oakland Privacy’s first success was in stopping Oakland from creating the Domain Awareness Center in 2014. It has not been their last.