San Francisco Passes Controversial Surveillance Plan – Slashdot


An anonymous reader quotes a report from SFGate: In a 7-4 vote on Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to test Mayor London Breed’s controversial plan to overhaul the city’s surveillance practices, which will allow police to access private security cameras in real time. Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Aaron Peskin, Gordon Mar, Matt Dorsey, Myrna Melgar, Rafael Mandelman and Ahsha Safai voted to approve the trial run, while Connie Chan, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted in dissent.

Under the new policy, police can access up to 24 hours of live video of outdoor footage from private surveillance cameras owned by individuals or businesses without a warrant as long as the camera’s owner allows it. Police must meet one of three outlined criteria to use their newfound power: they must be responding to a life-threatening emergency, deciding how to deploy officers in response to a large public event or conducting a criminal investigation that was approved in writing by a captain or higher-ranking police official. The trial will last 15 months. If supervisors wish to extend or revise the policy, they must take a second vote. “I know the thought process is, ‘Just trust us, just trust the police department.’ But the reality is people have been violating civil liberties since my ancestors were brought here from an entirely, completely different continent,” Walton, the board president and District 10 representative, said.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins added: “I believe this policy can help address the existence of open-air drug markets fueling the sale of the deadly drug fentanyl. Drug dealers are destroying people’s lives and wreaking havoc on neighborhoods like the Tenderloin. Mass organized retail theft, like we saw in Union Square last year, or targeted neighborhood efforts like we’ve seen in Chinatown is another area where the proposed policy can help.”



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