In September, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department began a one-year pilot program that includes four camera-equipped drones. Despite urging from the ACLU that the Sheriff’s Department first seek input from the public and the County Board of Supervisors, it did neither.
The bulk of the public conversation about the Operation Secure San Diego program has been limited to recruiting people with private cameras to join in – not outlining how police can safeguard people’s privacy.
The government is invisibly collecting data on Bluetooth equipped smartphones along roadways. It’s logical to assume this collection will expand to other public areas, and smartphones make a tantalizing tool for precise tracking.
The San Diego Police Department since 2010 has been trying to build a surveillance network with the ominous title “Operation Secure San Diego.” Four years later, the program makes better fodder for Stewart and Colbert than Snowden and Orwell.
As the national debate rages over privacy in the digital age, our mayoral candidates should go on the record about how they will protect civil liberties as law enforcement agencies propose and adopt new technologies.