Oakland, CA Police Will Build City-Wide "Spy Center" With Surveillance Cameras, Maybe Drones

By the middle of next year, Oakland, California will likely have
a city-wide central surveillance center to monitor citizens at all

In a
6-1 vote
last month, the Oakland City Council agreed to
move forward with the creation of the Domain
Awareness Center
: a central surveillance hub for law
enforcement in one of the country’s
most dangerous cities
. The “spy center” will pull data from a
web of interconnected monitoring devices strewn throughout the city
and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

According to the Center
for Investigative Reporting
, the Domain Awareness Center
started as a federal anti-terrorism project for the Port of
Oakland, but is now expanding into a city-wide program.

The Domain Awareness Center, a joint project between the Port of
Oakland and city, started as a nationwide initiative to secure
ports by networking sensors and cameras in and around the
facilities. The busy port is one of seven U.S. maritime facilities
that the Department of Homeland Security considers at highest
risk of a terrorist attack

Since its inception in 2009, the project has ballooned into a
surveillance program for the entire city. Some officials already
have proposed linking the center to a regional Department of
Homeland Security intelligence-gathering operation or adding feeds
from surveillance cameras around the Oakland stadium and arena

The center will aggregate information from an array of existing
surveillance methods, including thousands
of security cameras
owned by the city and private businesses,
license plate readers, gun shot detectors, crime-mapping software,
and Twitter feeds. 

Oakland residents vigorously protested the Domain Awareness
Center, citing privacy concerns and a lack of trust in

Joshua Daniels, one of the speakers during a July city council
the surveillance center would give significantly more
power to the police department, which he believes “doesn’t respect
the rights” of Oakland residents. 

“This city has a huge trust issue,” Daniels said, “and it’s not
going to be solved by spying on your citizens.”

West Oakland resident Magdalena Kazmierczak
, “I don’t want to live in a city that is testing
this giant surveillance system, because I believe it is going to be
used to criminalize normal existence.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and
the Electronic Frontier Foundation have also stated their
opposition to the center, on the grounds that there are no privacy
guidelines in place or limits on how much collected data the city
will retain. 

This is all happening in the same city where, earlier this year,
the county sheriff
proposed purchasing a drone
 that can virtually
see through walls
with infrared technology. The drone plan was

 following a series of complaints over privacy
concerns by groups like the ACLU and Alameda County Against Drones,
but it may be brought up again.

The Domain Awareness Center however, will almost certainly still
be constructed. Oakland will allocate
$10.9 million
in federal grant money to create the new center.
The city also plans to apply for an additional $2.6 million to
create several new law enforcement positions.  

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/oakland-ca-police-will-build-city-wide-s

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