Monday, November 25, 2013
Oakland's Total Surveillance program
The following article does not mention the common practice by security agencies, including city police and Federal Dept. of Homeland Security, using surveillance tool for politically targeted operations against dissidents.
The article is included in tis archive to show you how the monopolist newspapers wash-out any knowledge of harassment and targeted suppression of dissent, instead making the concern over surveillance as a matter of "opinion", and as "soft-on-crime"...
"Oaklanders' crime fears outweigh privacy freak-outs"
2013-11-25 by Chip Johnson from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Oaklanders-crime-fears-outweigh-privacy-5011270.php]:
You know what worries me more than Big Brother looking over my shoulder, reading my e-mail, tracing my Internet surfing or Photoshopping a mustache onto my Facebook page?
It's being a resident in a city with high crime and a police force too small to protect people or patrol streets, let alone respond quickly in an emergency. Anyone who believes one has nothing to do with the other doesn't know about the last meeting of the Oakland City Council.
Opponents challenged a city plan to establish a Domain Awareness Center, a high-tech central command location that will be linked to city and privately owned camera systems, gunshot-detection devices and license-plate readers across the city.
The specific beef with the project is electronic surveillance, but opponents took a worn path made by police critics who have opposed nearly every pro-active law enforcement measure, from teen curfews to gang injunctions to a ban on possessing tools that can - and have been - used as weapons at demonstrations. This particular group of critics, which included a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, showed up to warn about invasion of privacy and the lack of a meaningful public hearing process on a topic with such wide-ranging ramifications. A West Oakland resident, 24-year old Magdalena Kazmierczak, said the system "is going to be used to criminalize normal existence."
It's possible, but hardly plausible, to envision that law enforcement's burning desire is to hack into a personal e-mail account in a city of nearly 400,000 people that has an international shipping port; vital air, rail and regional highway links; and a bridge that connects it to San Francisco - and is a place where some poor soul gets shot almost daily.
Originally intended for use at the Port of Oakland, and paid for by millions in federal grants, the system would have the capacity to monitor closed-circuit TV systems, live Web feeds, port truck management, perimeter cameras, chemical sensors and thermal imaging devices. City officials say it would be an invaluable emergency services tool. It could also significantly aid law enforcement.
Besides detecting gunfire, the system could access video surveillance - public and, with consent, private cameras - to spot vehicles in the vicinity and record makes, models and tags to cross-reference with crime records.
At a time when Oakland residents are buying home electronic security products faster than electricians can install them, critics of surveillance may not find much citizen support.
Over the past two years, Oakland residents in neighborhoods around the city banded together to pay for private security patrols. Merchants have installed cameras by the hundreds.
Many would jump at the chance to add their local network to the city's system when the awareness center becomes operational.
Oakland residents have endured more than their fair share of crime - the city's robbery rate was the highest in the nation in 2012 - and climbed again this year - and that's only half the rub.
Oakland residents have also watched as police critics have attempted to wrest control of public policy debates or use crowds and tactics to disrupt, delay and ultimately derail the government process.
The subject last week was electronic surveillance, but the tactics were the same ones used by protesters and anarchists who took over downtown Oakland during the Occupy Oakland invasion. It was easy. Protesters simply drove a wedge between factions of local leadership, disabled government and shut down Port of Oakland operations on two occasions. And when the inevitable confrontation between police and protesters occurred, the Oakland Police Department took most of the blame.
Like a broken record, the scenario has played out time and again in Oakland City Hall. Oakland residents are pretty sick of it. I'm sick of it.
After nearly two years of being bullied in their own house, maybe City Council members finally got sick of it, too.
Because after the 6-1 council vote to advance the measure prompted yet another round of catcalls from detractors, City Council President Pat Kernighan ordered Oakland police to clear the chamber.
Most Oakland residents are eager to listen to any legitimate city law enforcement project that enhances police coverage, reduces response times, helps police catch the bad guys, and reduces the instances of racial profiling of good guys who live in Oakland's traditional African American and Latino communities.