CAIR-SFBA: Civil Liberties Groups Celebrate Oakland City Council’s Decision to Ban Predictive Policing and Biometric Surveillance Technology

(SANTA CLARA, CA, 1/14/2020) – The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) and other civil liberties groups, including Secure Justice, Justice Teams Network, and more, today welcomed the Oakland City Council unanimously adopting a number of recommended amendments to its existing surveillance technology ordinance.

Those amendments include first-in-the-nation prohibitions on the city’s use of predictive policing analytics and biometric surveillance technologies. The ordinance amendments were supported by a large coalition of racial justice, immigrants’ rights and civil liberties organizations, and sponsored by the City of Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission. The bans became effective on January 12.

“We thank the Oakland City Council for their unanimous vote to protect our dignity and privacy through banning predictive policing and biometric surveillance technology,” said Sameena Usman, Government Relations Coordinator for CAIR-SFBA. “Not only are these methods intrusive and don’t work, they also have a disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities – leading to over policing,” said Sameena Usman, Government Relations Coordinator for the San Francisco office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Oakland’s history of racial and social justice movements like the Black Panthers and Occupy is also accompanied by a history of racial profiling, infiltration by law enforcement, and use of surveillance techniques to target and disrupt those advocating for human rights,” said Cat Brooks, Executive Director, Justice Teams Network. “With a police department heading into its eighteenth year of federal oversight due to systemic racism, allowing the use of “dirty data” to train an algorithm to predict crime would be a disaster. The Oakland City Council made the right decision to ban these technologies that will only cement into place and potentially accelerate racial bias.

“In a year of unprecedented civic participation and civil unrest, we are moved to see Oakland’s City Council take this groundbreaking step advancing public safety and protecting civil liberties. Predictive policing and biometric surveillance technologies have a harmfully disparate impact against people of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations, as well as a chilling effect on our fundamental First Amendment freedoms,” said Nathan Sheard, Associate Director of Community Organizing, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“We applaud the Oakland City Council for taking meaningful measures to protect targeted communities and defend human rights,” said Brian Hofer, Chair of the Privacy Advisory Commission and Executive Director of Secure Justice. “By becoming the first municipality in the country to expressly track race in the annual reports, and to prohibit the city’s use of creepy surveillance technologies that have proven to have a disparate impact and to be harmful to human rights, Oakland continues to remain the gold standard in this space.”

CAIR-SFBA is an office of CAIR, the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

Secure Justice is a non-profit organization advocating against state abuse of power, and for reduction in government and corporate over-reach. We target change in government contracting and corporate complicity with government policies and practices that are inconsistent with democratic values and principles of human rights.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

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CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Communications Coordinator Zoha Raza, 408.418.6902, zraza@cair.com;

Secure Justice Executive Director Brian Hofer, brian@secure-justice.org, 510-303-2871; EFF Associate Director of Community Organizing Nathan Sheard nash@eff.com

Originally published by the Council on American-Islamic Relations: Source

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