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Davis To Regulate Hi-Tech Surveillance


Fears about the unconstitutional use of cellphone tracking devices, license plate reader cameras and other hi-tech surveillance have prompted the Davis City Council to pass a new ordinance. 

It's called the Surveillance Technology Ordinance and it requires the police department or other city agency that wants to buy and use any surveillance technology, to prove that the device will do more good than any possible harm to civil liberties.

Brian Hofer is with a civil liberties group called Oakland Privacy, which supported the ordinance. He told council members they shouldn't be worried about their own city departments using the information improperly.

"My own biggest concern is the feds getting access to your data, it's not your local chief," said Hofer. "You might have seen Alameda, Culver City, San Pablo all within the last month have postponed automated license place reader proposals from Vigilant Solutions due to Vigilant's contract to supply data to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That's what I'm worried about."

Emily Montgomery is with the Yolo County chapter of the ACLU of Northern California which helped develop the ordinance. She spoke at last night's meeting:

"This ordinance will surface important questions like 'who has access to data from surveillance technology,' so that we can make sound collective decisions for the safety of all people living here in Davis," said Montgomery.

The City of Berkeley and Santa Clara County have passed similar laws. There was no organized opposition to the ordinance.

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