Stop police spying

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Stop police spying

Oakland, Calif.—On Feb. 18, Oakland City Council, on the recommendation of the Mayor, delayed voting on a federally funded Domain Awareness Center (DAC). DAC is controversial because it would allow police and other agencies to deploy a network of cameras and computers to monitor Twitter and Facebook to better surveil human activities within the City of Oakland.

Aspects of DAC already exist within Oakland, including about four dozen cameras being installed at the Port of Oakland. Proponents claim the network would allow police to better respond to emergencies. Opponents claim it would increase the power of the local government to spy on citizens.

The public overwhelmingly opposed the DAC measure, and likened it to the National Security Agency’s unlimited access to Americans’ communications. Of the 40 or so who spoke at the public discussion at the council hearing, all but two opposed DAC. Of those who testified, about half were Muslims who conveyed the disruptions to their lives and families.

One City Council member asked whether DAC would affect the lives of other citizens as it had Muslims. Others expressed discomfort with the bill. This signaled a shift. During two previous hearings, the City Council had overwhelmingly supported the measure. If not for the mayor’s decision to delay the vote, the measure would have been defeated.

—Ibrahim

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