As the mayoral election approaches, San Diego’s two candidates are eager to articulate for voters their vision for the city’s future.
They’ve offered blueprints for infrastructure, development, the economy and even government transparency. But as the national debate rages over privacy in the digital age, the candidates should also go on the record about how they will protect civil liberties as law enforcement agencies propose and adopt new technologies.
On its current path, San Diego is emerging as the advance guard of the surveillance state, but the city’s leaders have the opportunity to start the region on a new trajectory that protects citizens’ rights without compromising public safety.
The next mayor will exert great influence over law enforcement priorities as a member of the board of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the often-overlooked but very powerful regional planning agency.
Sometimes described as the county’s equivalent of the United Nations, SANDAG is governed by elected officials from each of the area’s municipalities, who craft and fund a wide array of programs from transportation to land use. Through the Automated Regional Justice Information System, SANDAG also serves as the central hub for public safety endeavors. That includes implementing new surveillance technologies.
Civil liberties groups, such as the ACLU and the organization I work for, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are concerned about SANDAG’s rush to experiment with these new technologies with little regard for the impact this surveillance will have on both privacy rights and San Diego’s culture of freedom.
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I am surprised to see no comments from the "if youre not doing anything wrong you need not worry" or "if it is catching criminals I am all for it" camps. Who both seem to have never heard of the terms "slippery slope" or "mission creep" and may not even apply here as these systems are touted in the ends of press releases as for the public good of catching people behind on their taxes, with delinquent parking tickets, etc.
To those ends this is just a lazy way for the government to be an absolute perfectionist in revenue gathering. Revenue often, if not usually, wasted in corrupt gov't spending, inept civil servants, bloated pension plans, etc.
The way the system is set up to make money at every turn if one falls under the view of the big brother dragnet for say expired registration caused by unpaid parking tickets you would have to pay the tickets and penalties and registration and penalties plus towing and storage fees to get the vehicle back. All told easily $2000 in many cases. With the current economy that is outside the reach of many so they lose that car and with our spotty mass transit they soon lose their job and so on and are pushing a shopping cart on your street. Along the way the city made a few hundred dollars but that only helped pay for the camera program.
Now they get to pay for services for one more homeless person "upstanding citizens" in ivory towers can scoff at, pay for more police, but residents can clean up the pee and poop they leave behind since public restrooms are virtually nonexistent.
Seen on a county vehicle: "the noblest intent is for the public good".
I am sure John Moores and Valerie Stallings got a chuckle out of that when they broke ground at Petco park.
In light of the recent revelations of rampant spying, both domestic and foreign, by NSA and other agencies of our government I propose a re-write of our nations Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance under duress to the Surveillance State of America, and to the security agencies that increasingly control our Nation, under fear, divided by economics, with liberty and justice for those who can afford to buy it.
I think that about covers it, eh.