US City to Spy on Citizens Through Private Security Cameras

Americans’ right to privacy should be considered sacred.  It should be something that we strain to protect at all costs.

After all, how free can you be if those with the ability to fine or jail you are watching every single move that you make?  How can you say that our 4th amendment rights are still intact when “search and seizure” becomes a constant digital nuisance?

The people of San Francisco are about to find out.

In a 7-4 vote on Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to test Mayor London Breed’s controversial plan to overhaul the city’s surveillance practices, which will allow police to access private security cameras in real time.

Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Aaron Peskin, Gordon Mar, Matt Dorsey, Myrna Melgar, Rafael Mandelman and Ahsha Safaí voted to approve the trial run, while Connie Chan, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted in dissent.

That dissent was brutal and honest.

“I know the thought process is, ‘Just trust us, just trust the police department.’ But the reality is people have been violating civil liberties since my ancestors were brought here from an entirely, completely different continent,” Walton — the board president and District 10 representative — said.

On paper, the plan seemed to have some serious guardrails.

Police must meet one of three outlined criteria to use their newfound power: they must be responding to a life-threatening emergency, deciding how to deploy officers in response to a large public event or conducting a criminal investigation that was approved in writing by a captain or higher-ranking police official.

But, as with all police programs, the potential for abuse is high, and must be taken into consideration.