SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco police can now request access to private security cameras during situations they believe have serious public safety concerns.
The legislation was passed during last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, but some people aren’t happy about it. “There are a lot of ways this can go very wrong, very quickly,” said Matthew Guariglia, Policy Analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
By a vote of 7-4 Tuesday, San Francisco city supervisors voted to allow SFPD to temporarily request live access for 24-hour periods to privately-owned cameras in order to respond to criminal activity.
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“People say that this is needed to fight crime and a lot of the examples they use are crimes that are already caught on camera in which police already have access to, with a simple request historically,” said Guariglia.
Guariglia said he is disappointed that the police could gain access to a camera to monitor for things such as a misdemeanor. “So that includes jaywalking or vandalism and people jaywalk in the city all the time. You can say on any given street that there will be jaywalking within 24 hours, so these cameras are going to be collecting people’s commutes, people’s walk to work, when they visit their friends, when they go to their lawyers or doctor’s office,” added Guariglia.
Guariglia is worried the information could be shared with other agencies.
“When we think about the state of the world right now, how many of these cameras are around planned parenthood San Francisco? How often could live access be given to the police and from there that footage be given to other police departments across the country investigating someone seeking reproductive healthcare,” said Guariglia.
He added that the Electronic Frontier Foundation will continue to follow how the ordinance is being used. “Demand transparency, make sure the audits happen. Make sure we know how often it’s being used and where it’s being used,” said Guariglia.
This new ordinance comes with a 15-month sunset provision. Supervisors would have to renew it at the time of expiration or it will no longer be in effect.