San Francisco Police Can Now Watch Private Surveillance Cameras in Real Time


Photo by Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco police got a boost in their surveillance powers this week after the city’s board of supervisors Tuesday voted to allow the police to access private surveillance cameras in real time.

The vote, which passed 7-4, approved a one-year pilot program that would allow police to view images from private cameras in the city with the permission of camera owners. The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) does not have continuous access to the cameras, but may use the network under certain conditions, such as while investigating crimes, including felonies and property crimes. The SFPD will also have access to private CCTV footage during large-scale public events such as protests, even if there is no suspicion of a crime.

Civil rights groups such as the EFF and ACLU have been highly critical of the new measure, which they say will increase scrutiny of already marginalized groups in the city. In a blog postEFF policy analyst Matthew Guariglia wrote that the wide range of crimes that could trigger camera activation would allow general surveillance at almost any time.

“Make no mistake, crimes like vandalism or jaywalking happen on nearly every street in San Francisco on any given day — meaning this ordinance essentially gives the SFPD the ability to keep the entire city under live surveillance indefinitely,” it wrote. Guariglia.

However, the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, announced the new legislation as a necessary measure to increase public safety in the city, which struggles with rising crime rates.

“Our residents and small businesses want us to focus on keeping San Francisco safe for everyone who lives and works in the city,” Breed said in a statement. pronunciation. “This is a sensible policy that balances the need to give our police officers another tool to address important public safety challenges and hold those who break the law to account.”

Another side effect of the new regulation is that wealthy individuals can effectively increase police surveillance capacity unilaterally and without supervision. As report in protocol Highlights, Ripple cryptocurrency co-founder Chris Larsen has spent approximately $4 million installing more than 1,000 security cameras in San Francisco since 2012.

Larsen, a resident of San Francisco, shared: protocol that technology “had contributed to the inequality and problems we see in San Francisco today,” but said investing in programs like the private surveillance initiative would help improve community security.


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