In the wake of all the fallout from the National Security Agency leaks, on Wednesday morning, Oakland's city council passed a highly controversial measure to amp up surveillance. The council agreed to receive $2 million from the federal government to install video surveillance in the Port of Oakland. Witnesses to the vote chanted “Shame! Shame!” as the bill passed unanimously.
The bill, referred to as the Domain Awareness Center, will collect video surveillance from all around Oakland to be monitored by Oakland City Police. It might include license plate readers.
To a certain extent, legislators anticipated the great public outcry about civil liberty. It does not allow video surveillance footage to be taken of city schools and the sports arena coliseum. The surveillance will not take place until further privacy and security concerns are hashed out in the spring.
“Just to be clear, this does not involve cameras from Oakland schools,” said Councilwoman Libby Schaff. “That was a controversial issue and we’ve made clear that that is not a part of this process at this time.”
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The council said they supported the measure because it would help with emergency response. But American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Linda Lye, worries the bill will, "allow for widespread warrantless surveillance of Oakland residents." The bill causes for further alarm, according to Lye since it, "allows for the collection and stockpiling of comprehensive information about Oakland residents who have engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever and lacks any binding privacy protections."
Proponents defend the bill by saying they only have the capacity to store 35 days worth of surveillance.
No mention was publicly made about why the federal government is subsidizing surveillance at the local level.