Oakland Strives for Privacy

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April 3, 2015
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April 7, 2015


In Oakland, California Restore the Fourth is pushing back against the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). In 2009, Oakland received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for a Port surveillance system. In July 2013, the city council awarded the DAC expansion of the city wide surveillance center. This was the first time the public was made aware of what was happening.

After the public got wind of what was happening there seemed to be a shift. In March 2014 the DAC was scaled back to just the port. Then, in May 2014 an ad hoc privacy committee was established. Now, in 2015, the DAC Privacy Policy presented the Public Safety Committee with a recommendation for a city wide Privacy Policy.  This would include a standing Privacy Policy Committee, and surveillance equipment ordinance, and amendment to the whistleblower ordinance to create many avenues which one can report.

It has been proven that the surveillance equipment that is used, such as shot spotters and license plate readers, do not do the job they were put in place to do. The February 2014 city auditors report showed that shot spotter only led to .09 percent of the total arrest volume. The automatic license plate readers have only a .2 percent hit rate, meaning that the vehicle theft numbers are not going down.

This data clearly shows that the surveillance that is in place is not doing its job. Oakland should not be using these methods of surveillance because it is not bringing crime rates down. Brian Hofer said, “Overall, I don’t see the cost benefit analysis as really being in favor of the general public.” There needs to be specified use in order for the government to use these surveillance methods in the hope to ensure privacy for individuals.



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