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Two Surveillance Transparency Laws Adopted in NorCal Cities In 10 Days
by Oakland Privacy
Tuesday Apr 10th, 2018 4:06 PM
Oakland – As privacy and data security concerns headline the news, two Bay Area cities have taken the lead in regulating the use of spying and surveillance equipment and technologies in their communities, with a third in the final stages of the adoption process.
Davis and Berkeley have adopted the new law that mandates public transparency, vetted use policies and annual reporting to protect human rights and reins in secret unfettered surveillance by local law enforcement. The County of Santa Clara unanimously passed a surveillance transparency ordinance in 2016, becoming the first entity in the nation to exert local control over the use of spy tech.

Surveillance transparency legislation, also called CCOPS (community control over police surveillance) laws, require public hearings for the acquisition of spying and surveillance equipment, approval by local government bodies of use polices that describe appropriate uses including data storage and access policies, and regular reporting to maintain oversight.

“Any technology tool can be used in a variety of ways, some appropriate and some that create civil rights problems”, says Media Alliance Executive Director Tracy Rosenberg. “The surveillance transparency framework just put into place in Berkeley and Davis requires us to articulate where those lines are according to local standards and then make sure we keep to those agreements”.

Oakland will review final ordinance language in its Public Safety committee on Tuesday April 10 at 6pm at Oakland City Hall. If approved, the Oakland legislation will move directly to the City Council for adoption later this month.

Statewide surveillance transparency law in California {SB 1186}, which was held in the CA Assembly in 2017 after approval by five state policy committees and passage through the State Senate, passed through its first policy committee in 2018 on Tuesday April 5 with a 5-1 vote of approval at the State Senate Public Safety committee, chaired by State Senator Nancy Skinner.

Growing concerns over invasive data sharing practices, rapid technological advances, and potential illegitimate uses of law enforcement collected data to track and profile vulnerable groups have inspired a growing number of Northern California local governments into action.

A coalition of advocacy groups, anchored by Oakland Privacy, the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and supported by CAIR-Bay Area, Asian-Americans Advancing Justice, Courage Campaign, Color of Change, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Media Alliance, the American Friends Service Committee, Greenlining Institute, Center for Media Justice and many others seeks to advance surveillance transparency legislation in municipalities around the nation, after Oakland's resistance to a planned citywide monitoring system called the Domain Awareness Center spawned the first municipal privacy commission on privacy in the country.


Oakland Privacy is a citizen’s coalition that works regionally to defend the right to privacy and enhance public transparency and oversight regarding the use of surveillance techniques and equipment. We were instrumental in the creation of the first standing municipal citizens’ privacy advisory commission in the City of Oakland, and we have engaged in privacy enhancing legislative efforts with several Northern California cities and regional entities. As experts on municipal privacy reform, we have written use policies and impact reports for a variety of surveillance technologies, conducted research and investigations, and developed frameworks for the implementation of equipment with respect for civil rights, privacy protections and community control.

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