Week 7 assignments

A couple of you have already submitted your week 7 assignments on Github, so I figured I’d start a thread!

@mtkinney: great findings! I opened up the Verge article you linked to and was immediately alarmed by this sentence:

Because of the complexity of the Vigilant system, local ALPR data was directly accessible to ICE for months before the department became aware of the access.

Just…wow. The private company that sells the surveillance equipment to police is so “complex” that the police don’t even know who has access to it! What!!! There’s even more alarming stuff in the article, and it really drives home the point you’ve made about the need for statewide legislation. Even if such legislation wouldn’t bar the use of surveillance technologies entirely, it could make the data sharing agreements across local agencies, municipalities, federal agencies, and other states transparent and publicly accountable. This is especially vital in population centers like the Bay Area, where, as you noted, residents can get swept up in the data sharing practices of other nearby municipalities or counties (even if they live in one with better rules).

There’s some locals quoted in these pieces that I know at least on some level from doing privacy work and I would love to put you in touch with them if you’re interested. Matt Cagle at the ACLU-NorCal, Cyrus Farivar of Ars, Brian Hofer at Oakland Privacy (part of the coalition that blocked the Domain Awareness Center…he actually spoke about this at the conference LFP held at Noisebridge in 2015 right after ALA). And of course EFF people. Let me know. Oakland is really ground zero for a lot of this work and the most effective pushback is from these groups working in coalition. I know they’d love to have libraries/librarians on board.

@langur: your findings are so relevant to what Megan brought up in her assignment, too! SB21 is exactly the kind of legislative efforts that can address the issues that Megan identified. So the question now is: how can librarians support these efforts? It would be amazing to see a public program with members of the coalition who created this legislation. The surveillance tech you found in use in San Diego is all too common (as you said, you’re unsurprised, and I don’t blame you). I’d be interested to see data about how this equipment has been used. It’s probably gonna be the same as everywhere else – routine drug investigations. The organizations I mentioned above to Megan are obviously not as close by to you in Southern California, but I’d still be happy to put you in touch with them because they do work on statewide initiatives. Especially regarding SB21 – that’s something that I’m sure they have partners across the state advocating for.

Thanks for kicking it off, @alison! I was still finishing the last few minutes of the lecture I missed w/ Franklin and was making sure I didn’t miss some side comment about week 7 assignments before posting mine :smiley: <omg I have to send that lecture to EVERYONE I work with! is that ok?>

One thing that repeatedly strikes me when reading about all this stuff is how… HOW can these technology providers demand how their customer info gets used? I know it happens, but I spend so much time reading over agreements with vendors for our databases, and we (libraries) push hard to try to ensure privacy protections (that could be breached, but we try). I guess if you’re not interested in pushing back and thinking about the nefarious ways info gets used, you don’t think about it. (I feel so tongue tied talking about this stuff. Really wishing I could download some extra controlled vocab set into my brain.)

I am definitely interested in getting more involved and connected with those folks! I thought I’d settle into the new job mid-August and then hit the ground running in September after I have my bearings. It feels exciting to be in the right place for so many important things (and a little whelming).

Please do!

Right, and also think about all these NDAs between private companies and law enforcement. It’s astounding to see how much demands are set by providers. So it must be that the entities buying these tools find the benefits to be enough that they don’t care if the companies make requirements of them.

Whenever you’re ready, just let me know and I’ll make some email introductions.

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This assignment is work-in-progress for me and a continuation of Week 2’s discussion / assignment.

I am trying to find out how the Metro Nashville PD uses surveillance cameras in public spaces. I know they use them because the occasionally release PR pieces about how they help solve crimes, or actual footage of crimes in attempts to find suspects. In particular, how many, where they are, who has access to feeds, and how long the footage is kept. So far, I’ve just emailed them cold. If I get no response, I plan on filing a FOIA request.

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cool! keep us posted! if you need any help from some people with FOIA experience, I know lots.

thinking the same for @Rebekah who talked about doing some public records programming at Oakland. you mentioned Cyrus Farivar – I know him a little and I wonder if he’d be willing to come talk to the Digital Safety Group? I believe he lives in the East Bay, and he’s one of the people I think of as “FOIA warriors”. he would undoubtedly have some tips for getting started and some ways to get around “no records provided”. :slight_smile:

Here’s mylink to week 7 assignment.

Thanks @alison. Cyrus did a presentation on Habeas Data at my branch in the spring as part of Choose Privacy week so I was curious about the records he accessed for the book and his articles. Great idea to invite him to talk to the Digital Safety group.

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Currently waiting on a call back from a very recently retired commander of my local PD who has promised to tell all from PD side about what they use currently and what they tried to use, but no longer use for various reasons (I know plate readers and Shot spotter are in this category).

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For my week 7 I also did a continuation of a previous week–the week 5 threat model. I met with my school district superintendent and district IT staff to ask questions about the student Chromebook program they are starting, share the threat model, discuss some policy questions, and express some concerns. It was a very interesting discussion and one that will be ongoing with other stakeholders as well.

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Shoot. I put my assignment on the wrong board. My city has very little surveillance tech. Not because they don’t want it, but because they can’t afford it. Here it is again.

Wow, this is so illuminating @AllyM. Something that we’ve talked about a little with regard to surveillance tech is that we could stop a lot of it by defunding the DOJ/DHS programs that provide for it. But I hadn’t even thought of this angle, that if you piss off the DOJ for some other reasons, they’ll shut your city out. Difficult to advocate for this method but certainly very interesting. I wonder if the ACLU of Mississippi knows about this.

I’m not sure DOJ has entirely shut the city out, but it’s a thing I could definitely see happening. I think they are still waiting to hear on their application for the body cam funds. I feel like ACLU is probably aware. I’m a big fan of ACLU MS and they seem pretty on top of everything down here.

The police wrote me back. They were informative but also obtuse. The “blue light” cameras downtown are located in the Nashville country music tourist strip.

"The number of surveillance cameras in use at any given time, and their location, fluctuates as we have different types of cameras. Some are the permanent, highly visible cameras you see downtown with the flashing blue lights that are affixed to light poles. Others are mounted to trailers and can be brought in for special events for extra visibility and security.

Access to the cameras varies based upon location and assignment. For instance, Central Precinct detectives have access to the downtown light pole cameras. If a portable trailer camera is being utilized for a particular event, then the officers staffing that event will have access.

Likewise, video storage varies based upon the camera. Some are live feeds, which are not recorded. Others may be recorded and stored for up to 30 days."