San Francisco: It’s Time to Stop Secret Surveillance Programs in Our City

The people of San Francisco deserve to have a voice in whether city departments may acquire and use surveillance technology.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will soon vote on the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance—critical legislation drafted to ensure that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, after inviting an opportunity for input from the people of our city, control whether or not police and other city departments may acquire powerful surveillance technologies.

Now is the time for you to tell the Board of Supervisors to end the days of secret surveillance technologies that unfairly target the people of San Francisco.

We won!

Victory! By an overwhelming majority, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to make San Francisco the first US city to ban government use of face surveillance technology.

The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance is straightforward: it requires community control, transparency, and accountability for all surveillance technology proposals. It ensures the public has the opportunity to learn about the civil rights and civil liberties impact of surveillance technologies, and how they may burden minority and immigrant communities, before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decides whether or not to acquire them.

The Ordinance also prohibits government use of face surveillance technology, which is a technology known to have disproportionately high error rates for people of color, women, and the elderly. It also creates a system for government to monitor our whereabouts and it discourages protest in public places.

The power to decide whether or not powerful spying tools are acquired and, if so, how they are utilized, should not stand unilaterally with department executives. Instead, elected members of the Board of Supervisors should be empowered to approve or reject surveillance technology. Most importantly, all residents must be provided an opportunity to comment on proposed surveillance technologies and the policies constraining their use, before Supervisors decide whether or not to adopt them.

Public safety requires trust between law enforcement and the community served. It's time to tell the Board to stand with the people of San Francisco in the fight to maintain the privacy and community safety we deserve.

Please write to the Board and urge them to adopt the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance.