The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously last week to strengthen its approach to “surveillance technologies.” The new surveillance ordinance sought to find middle ground between a Police Review Commission proposal and a competing item from city staff.
According to a Berkeleyside report, the compromise “seeks to establish a thoughtful process regarding the procurement and use of Surveillance Technology that carefully balances the City’s interest in protecting public safety its interest in protecting the privacy and civil rights of its community members.”
Supporters say they want to put civil liberties and rights at the heart of any surveillance technology use by the city, and require council approval when staff seeks to get a new tool. Officials would have a say in the policies that govern surveillance tools and would get annual reports on them – including what data was shared, with whom, where surveillance happened, whether complaints resulted, and information about costs and data breaches.
The ordinance focuses on devices that would collect audio, electronic, visual, location, thermal, olfactory, biometric or similar information. This would include surveillance cameras, social media analytics software, gunshot detectors, body-worn cameras and more.
More information on the ordinance can be found here.