Cambridge Spies On CPS Students

Illustration by Annie Zhao for VICE magazine

Many kids in the Cambridge Public Schools (and elsewhere in the Commonwealth) still don’t know that if you’re using a school-issued Chromebook, the school is monitoring whatever you browse, down to deleted draft emails, whether you’re at school or not.

This is through a browser add-on called “Securly.” CPS has an agreement with Securly that all school-issued Chromebooks will have this add-on.

What’s more, wittingly or not, CPS is lying to the City Council about whether student data gets shared. Let’s show you how.

In the Annual Surveillance Report submitted to the City, Cambridge Public Schools cites to the language of its Data Privacy Agreement with Securly, insisting, “This data is not shared with third parties” (Annual Surveillance Report, p.67). However, the DPA actually allows the sharing of data with third parties – specifically, but not limited to, the cops. Law enforcement is allowed to contact Securly to get data on students, and Securly is allowed to disclose that information without waiting for a warrant or evidence of involvement in illegal activities, and without telling either CPS or the student:

II. 4. Law Enforcement Requests. Should law enforcement or other government entities (“Requesting Party(ies)”) contact Provider with a request for Student Data held by the Provider pursuant to the Services, the Provider shall notify the LEA in advance of a compelled disclosure to the Requesting Party, unless lawfully directed by the Requesting Party not to inform the LEA of the request.

Since Securly can tell the cops without telling CPS, there’s no way CPS can truthfully guarantee to the City Council that your “data is not shared with third parties.” It might not be. But they can’t know for sure.

Beyond that, Article IV of the DPA goes into great detail about the circumstances under which Securly may share both personally identifiable student information and de-identified student information, for a variety of purposes. Again, it might be that, despite the DPA allowing them to, Securly is not in fact sharing CPS student information onwards; but we suspect that they are doing whatever the DPA currently allows them to do.

CPS also insists that Securly is being used only as a “Web Filter”, to block various kinds of disagreeable content. The material they have provided to the City Council focuses on students accessing gun-related content and suicide-related content.

But Securly’s Web Filter product not only blocks; it also shows to teachers and to admins what URLs are being blocked, offering what Securly describes as “Complete online visibility … monitor[ing] for signs of bullying, self-harm, gun terms, and violence”, with “AI-based context analysis … for signs of bullying, self-harm, gun terms, and violence across social networking and web searches. If a student is suffering or looking at concerning content, you’ll know.”

It is legal for students to search for content that includes violence, graphic imagery, and guns, and it’s hard to envision how they could research, say, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine without encountering such content.

It’s not clear that school monitoring software in general works. VICE reports, “The few published studies looking into the impacts of these tools indicate that they may have the opposite effect, breaking down trust relationships within schools and discouraging adolescents from reaching out for help—particularly those in minority and LGBTQ communities, who are far more likely to seek help online.” It is evident in places where school monitoring software is in use that students and parents are often contacted, inflicting harm, without administrators or teachers first examining the context of the flagged material. At a minimum, the City Council should find out what terms and sites are being flagged in Securly’s system, in order to evaluated whether there is manifest prejudice going into the selection of those terms and sites and whether each instance is being reviewed by the student’s teacher.

What Securly’s system appears to do is to monitor everything, and then rely on school officials’ discretion to determine whether what gets flagged is really cause for worry. Monitoring and disciplining students for accessing such content places the school district on dangerous legal ground. In last September’s ruling in Mahanoy School District v. B. L., the Supreme Court explained that students’ off-campus speech may be regulated only in cases of  “[1] serious or severe bullying or harassment targeting particular individuals; [2] threats aimed at teachers or other students; [3] the failure to follow rules concerning lessons, the writing of papers, the use of computers, or participation in other online school activities; and [4] breaches of school security devices, including material maintained within school computers.” Securly’s systems envision monitoring students’ off-campus speech in a far larger set of circumstances than provided for in Mahanoy.

My master’s thesis was on blocking and filtering technologies, and their potential for discriminating against the provision of LGBT-oriented information. I was also bullied in school, for years. I understand why schools want to track students’ access to gun- and suicide-related imagery. But public schools have to adhere to the Constitution in the surveillance they conduct of students. At most, considering the rights protected by the Fourth and First Amendments, schools are only be justified in starting to track out-of-school browsing behavior of a particular student on a school-issued device if they have probable cause to believe that the student was engaged in or is the target of one of the four kinds of conduct envisioned under Mahanoy. This technology goes far beyond what the law and the Constitution permits. We believe that the City Council should not approve the use of this technology.

This is part of a series on the surveillance technologies the City of Cambridge is reviewing. The City Council has referred consideration of these technologies through to the Public Safety Committee, which will hold a hearing and then report back to the City Council with recommendations. Email us if you’d like to testify at the Public Safety Committee. Now is the time to weigh in on whether you want to see this technology deployed in your community!

FBI & Boston PD Work Together To Convene Grand Jury To Investigate Left-Wing Activists, Citing Jan 6

During the Trump years, the President loved to lay into the FBI, and in consequence, the FBI found new allies on the left. Lifelong Republican Jim Comey became a darling of the Sunday morning talk shows, and after the January 6 attack on Congress, the FBI went full tilt after insurrectionists, to the applause of many Democratic legislators.

Funny thing about the power of the State, though. It has a deep bias against those who want to disrupt, violently or peacefully, the economic, social or racial status quo. And for that reason, the FBI and the police are always going to be more natural enemies of left social movements than of right-wing militia folks.

Take, for example, Detective Andrew Creed of the Boston PD Field Operations Group, who is heavily involved with the Boston Regional Intelligence Center; and FBI Special Agent Steven Kimball, whose lamentable grasp of the context of Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s social media posts made international news and imperiled that prosecution.

Creed last showed up on our radar harassing and surveilling water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation. Now, he and Kimball are back, harassing and surveilling people involved with a satirical documentary, “2020: The Dumpster Fire“, forthcoming on Apple TV and in theaters December 7.

The investigation, they claim, began when as part of the investigation of Jan. 6, a Proud Boy suggested that a trailer for this documentary was evidence of a plot to assassinate then-President Trump. (C’mon, if you can’t trust a Proud Boy’s word, who can you trust? Especially when Mr. Webber, the film’s director, had just finished up a documentary excoriating the Proud Boys…)

Unable to make a charge of plotting an assassination stick, this tyrannous tag-team got “Dumpster Fire”‘s producer, Embry Galen, fired from their day job. They’re threatening Lauren Pespisa, the film’s producer, with felon-in-possession charges for, during filming on private property in Maine, dressing up and holding a replica gun. And both she and the film’s director, Rod Webber, have experienced frequent visits to their door from Creed and Kimball.

The chilling effect which a potential prosecution would inflict on First Amendment rights is not hypothetical.  It is direct and far reaching.  Everyone involved in this film is in fear with the looming threat of prosecution.  If this goes to court, I can only imagine that anyone seeking to convey a message (especially a message which seeks to inspire debate, which is the most vital form of expression) would hesitate to risk it.  In the face of a government willing to scrutinize their production for any evidence of violation of law, then seek to prosecute it regardless of whether the violation implicated any true public safety concerns, many would choose to remain silent.

Murat Erkan, attorney for Lauren Pespisa

Alex Jones may think that Webber and Pespisa exemplify what is wrong with America, but Alex Jones’s hold on reality is only so-so. The truth is that the FBI and the police are clutching at any possible connection to January 6, to go after the same old targets: People on the left who embarrass and offend the powerful.

This is contemptible and unconstitutional. Please sign the petition to stop the prosecution of people involved with “2020: The Dumpster Fire.”

Secret Surveillance Outlawed In Boston

On October 20 at around 1pm, the Boston City Council unanimously approved a surveillance oversight ordinance.

Boston’s ordinance is the result of four years of work, beginning in November 2017 with representatives from Digital Fourth, Families for Justice as Healing, the Muslim Justice League, Jewish Voices for Peace and the ACLU of Massachusetts, and continuing with support from the Student Immigrant Movement and Unafraid Educators. The ordinance was first proposed for consideration by Michelle Wu in 2019, received significant support from Ayanna Pressley, Ricardo Arroyo, Andrea Campbell, Kim Janey and Lydia Edwards, and then went through considerable revisions to address the important topic of information sharing on BPS students with BPD and through them to ICE.

This is a big deal. Police departments across New England look to Boston PD. It will now be the job of local surveillance activists on the ground, to discover as much as we can about how surveillance technologies are used at Boston PD, and to organize to block approvals of intrusive technologies, just as we have been doing in Somerville and Cambridge.

To join our existing campaigns for ordinances in Watertown and Arlington, or to help us launch one in Newton, please contact digitalfourth@protonmail.com.

And if you think this is a good example of work worth doing, please consider donating to Restore The Fourth at www.restorethe4th.com/donate-now

Understanding Fusion Centers

Our local fusion center, BRIC, has been at the core of police efforts to surveil and suppress social movements for over a decade. And, since 2012, we’ve been calling them out on their abusive and un-Constitutional practices.

This October 30, please join us for a livestreamed discussion on fusion centers, with Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, law student Dani Hargus, and journalist Emma Best, moderated by our own Alex Marthews!

Boston’s Spy Center Thinks It Has (Almost) Free Rein To Open A File On You

Like the Stasi, but digital

We’re long-time critics of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, or “BRIC.” BRIC is one of over 80 “fusion centers” across the nation. that spy on Americans without probable cause.

We filed a public records request this January to delve deeper into BRIC’s surveillance practices. We partnered with the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Muslim Justice League and the Student Immigrant Movement, We have just received the first responsive record: BRIC’s “Criminal Intelligence File Guidelines.”

The key to understanding this document is that BRIC is legally obliged to follow 28 CFR Part 23. This is part of a Clinton-era Executive Order that tried to ensure that “criminal intelligence systems” don’t violate your Fourth Amendment rights. It makes it illegal for BRIC to keep a file on you not based on a “criminal predicate” — in other words, reasonable suspicion of your involvement in an actual crime.

As it turns out, BRIC’s attitude to this whole “Constitution” thing is a little … different.

BRIC’s Permanent Files

For its “Permanent” files, BRIC does indeed require a criminal predicate — though this document doesn’t include any information on how well that policy is followed.

BRIC’s Temporary Files

For its “Temporary” files, however, BRIC retains information on Boston area residents where “involvement in the suspected activity is questionable”, or where their identity cannot be established with certainty. The examples are that they have “possible associations with known criminals,” or that they have “criminal history” and “could again become criminally active.” BRIC retains “Temporary” files for up to a year, to see if information emerges that would enable to upgrade it to a “Permanent” file.

No. No, no. That’s not how the Fourth Amendment works. The government isn’t supposed to keep “criminal intelligence files” of people they generally believe to be Bad, or people with Bad Associations, based on a belief that they have a generalized propensity to commit crimes in the future. BRIC’s belief must be a reasonable one, based on evidence of your involvement in an actual crime. This violates 28 CFR Part 23 and, with it, the Fourth Amendment itself.

BRIC’s Interim Files

Oh, and it gets worse. Just in case their rules on “Temporary” criminal intelligence files don’t provide them with enough room to wiggle around the Constitution, BRIC allows itself a further category of “Interim” files. Apparently, BRIC can open an “Interim” file and retain it for up to 90 days if they receive “information that, absent additional information or change, would be deemed unnecessary for retention beyond a short term period,” or that is “specific to an anticipated event or incident with the potential for criminal conduct.”

I know, vague much?

It seems BRIC considers that they can open a file for 90 days based on literally anything at all. There’s no such thing as an “event or incident” with no “potential for criminal conduct.” This could cover everything down to your aunt’s Sunday evening knitting circle. “Interim Files” only exist as a category to allow BRIC essentially unfettered discretion.

To be fair, the Guidelines also tell BRIC employees what shouldn’t be in an intelligence file. This includes protected criminal record information, information “based solely on support of an unpopular cause”, information “based on ethnic background”, “based on religious or political affiliations” or “based on non-criminal personal habits;” and “associations that are not of a criminal nature.” However, we know from their gang databasing practices that their definition of what constitutes “associations of a criminal nature” is extremely broad, and that their notion of surveillance not “based solely” on religion, politics or ethnicity may differ sharply from Bostonians’ common understanding.

In practice, these Guidelines give BRIC permission to surveil “events or incidents” that it already dislikes and has a track record of surveilling; namely, protests that challenge the police themselves, or the current economic, social or racial arrangements in our society that police exist to violently defend.

Recommendations

We call on BRIC to make available to the public, with any legally necessary redactions, a representative sample of its current Temporary, Interim and Permanent Files, and then to delete the Temporary and Interim Files as contrary to the Fourth Amendment.

Then, at least, we will know how much surveillance BRIC is conducting that is not based on at least reasonable suspicion of involvement in an actual crime.

New Police Reform Bill Released

Quick summary of S. 2963, the MA police reform bill, as compared to previous versions.

Ignore the acres of verbiage on commissions. Maybe they’ll work, maybe they won’t, but they’re likelier to drag out and thwart police accountability than to promote it. So: What real reforms were blocked and what were included?

First, and most crucially, police reformers didn’t get any limitations on qualified immunity. Without that, police officers know they’ll still likely face no consequences for violating people’s rights in Massachusetts – which they do a lot. MA punted where CO led.

Second, the bill contains important, if long-overdue reforms. It outlaws police rape of people in their custody. It allows municipalities to not have a school resource officer. It limits school information sharing with gang databases. It limits no-knock warrants (RIP, Breonna Taylor.) The bill outlaws chokeholds resulting in unconsciousness or death. And it bans biometric surveillance without a time limit (though RMV is still allowed to do it).

But the final version also omits important things. No limits on military equipment acquisition by police; no data collection on police stops; it never envisioned doing anything on civil asset forfeitures, or requiring warrants for use of drones or stingrays or other police surveillance tech.

In summary: The reforms that are real are the ones police unions really felt they could not block. The fact that there are some reforms they couldn’t block shows that there are limits to their massive resistance. And the battle on qualified immunity is just beginning.

MA House Gets Vapors At Idea Of Actually Decertifying Officers, Banning Tear Gas

Here is this morning’s update on the current status of police “reform” in the House. For the topics the House has not yet considered, it’s not too late to call your House Rep and make your opinion known. All texts of amendments may be found at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4860/Amendments/House.

Key successes so far:
– #116, which we supported, passed narrowly. It placed further restrictions on no-knock warrants to protect children and elders. Yes, this means that almost half of our 80% Democratic House, thinks that on suspicion that illegal drugs exist in a home, the police should not have to check whether there are kids and elderly people inside before a SWAT team busts in, throws flash-bang grenades, and opens fire.
– #148, which we supported, passed. It strengthened penalties for police rape of people in custody, so at least there’s a consensus that that is wrong, I guess. Looking forward to seeing how many indictments are actually brought!

Key failures so far:
– #51, #54, #79, #107, #110, #129, #132 and #177, all of which we opposed, were some of the amendments which were folded into “Consolidated Amendment A” (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/GetAmendmentContent/191/H4860/A/House/Preview).* Consolidated Amendment A weakens the procedures of the Commission relative to the underlying House Amendment H4860 (the House bill). The Consolidated Amendment generally limits the ability of the Commission to investigate complaints until the police department has ruled on them, narrows the grounds for decertification, extends the appeal process for decertification, and gives the Commission greater discretion to not decertify. This basically means that the most important lesson Bob DeLeo is taking from the fury on the streets, is that it’s very important that any new Commission not be obliged to decertify officers who are shown to practice racist policing, to use excessive force, or to fail to intervene when they see other officers doing it.

– #77, which we supported, failed, as part of the process leading to the approval of Consolidated Amendment A. It was an effort to restore a “preponderance of the evidence” standard for decertification; the standard in the bill remains at “clear and convincing evidence.” There are further efforts, apparently, to increase the standard to “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
– #111, which we opposed, passed. It narrowed information not allowed for schools to share with law enforcement.
– #187, which we opposed, passed. It replaced the state auditor as a member of the new Police Commission with the president of the DAs’ association, as part of “Consolidated Amendment B”, which covered who should and should not be a member of various Commissions set up by the bill (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/GetAmendmentContent/191/H4860/B/House/Preview).
– #200, which we supported, failed. It would have banned tear gas and other chemical weapons. Apparently, it’s just a step too far to ban substances whose use in war is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, from being used against people protesting police brutality.

Key amendments we support that have not yet been considered:
– #80: Establishes that database of police misconduct records should be publicly available and searchable
– #85: Public notice for Commission meetings, not simply by request
– #100: (also supported by ACLU and Progressive Mass): Creates direct right to sue for police abuse, not just via the AG’s office
– #131: (also supported by ACLU and Progressive Mass): Restores Senate language on local control of military equipment acquisition
– #201: Appears to bar 287(g) agreements of police or sheriffs’ departments with ICE in their current form

Key amendments we oppose that have not yet been considered:
– #33 would make the chokehold ban more limited, as would #114
– #91 is a mischievous and silly amendment that would strip legislators’ qualified immunity from civil suit as revenge for stripping police officers of theirs.
– #149, also opposed by ACLU, would remove warrant/imminent harm requirement for law enforcement access to RMV records
– #172, #173, #193, #197 and #204 would all replace the bill’s repellently weak reform of qualified immunity with an even weaker study committee to consider the issue.
– #215, among other things, would limit decertification for bias to intentional bias.

* It appears that if an amendment is folded into a “Consolidated Amendment”, it may be that its exact language need not appear in the Consolidated Amendment; it’s more like the amendment’s author agrees to implicitly withdraw the amendment if the language in the Consolidated Amendment passes.

MA House Applies Crusher To Senate’s Police Reforms

Yesterday, the Massachusetts House launched their own version of a police “reform” bill (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4860).

TL;DR:
The House bill is, overall, far weaker than the Senate bill. We have till 1pm tomorrow to persuade House members to submit amendments. We want to see the Senate language on qualified immunityschool resource officerspolice stops, and military equipment approvals, in the House bill. We like the House’s face surveillance language better than the Senate’s. We don’t want, or need, yet more blue-ribbon commissions to consider at length What, If Anything, To Do. It’s quite clear what the problem is:

The police spy on, shoot and hurt people without probable cause, often for racist reasons. People who do that shouldn’t be police, and people it gets done to, should get to sue the people who did it to them.

There’s not much time. You can find your House Rep’s phone number at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. Please call this morning!

Here’s a quick summary of the key differences:

COMPARISON OF REFORM BILLSS2800H4860
Police rape of residents outlawed?YesYes
Qualified immunity limited?YesNo
School info sharing with “gang” database limited?YesYes
Government use of face surveillance banned?Temporary, plus RMVPermanent, minus RMV
Local discretion on whether to have police in schools?YesNo
Local elected official approval process for military equipment acquisition by police?YesNo
Chokeholds outlawed if intent or result of unconsciousness or death?YesYes
No-knock warrants limited?YesYes
Data collection on police traffic and pedestrian stops to prevent profiling?YesNo

In other words, the House bill has stronger provisions on face surveillance, but strips key language from the Senate version on qualified immunity, school resource officers, military equipment for police, and data collection on traffic stops. And as a last slap in the face to the Black community in Massachusetts, the House bill takes funds designated for securing racial equity in cannabis dispensary licenses, and redirected them to yet more police training.

At Digital Fourth, we would support a bill stronger than the Senate bill. Our optimal bill here would outlaw chokeholds, tear gas, other chemical irritants, the use of dogs at protests, and police rape; end qualified immunity, end information sharing of schools with the police and ICE, ban school resource officers, end the 1033 military equipment acquisition program, end no-knock warrants, end civil asset forfeitures, reverse the delays introduced by amendment in the Senate to the decertification process, and still collect data on all police stops.

The Senate bill at least represented progress, especially with the House provisions on face surveillance added. Therefore, we support all amendments adding the Senate language back in, excepting those relating to face surveillance. But the House bill – again, excepting the face surveillance provisions – is a betrayal of everyone genuinely concerned for equal justice, and deserves to wither in the fire.This is what happens now. 

You have till 1pm tomorrow to persuade your House member to submit or endorse amendments to the House bill. Then, House leadership will allow debate, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday, and vote on them and the bill. Then, the House and Senate will create a conference committee to try to agree common language. As you can see above, there are a lot of key differences. If the conference agrees on language, the bill goes back to both bodies for a vote, and then, if passed, it goes to the Governor’s desk. If the bill is not signed by the end of the session, which is currently scheduled for July 31, then the bill dies for this session, and would be reintroduced when the new session begins in January.

Good luck, and may the Fourth be with you!

Police Flooding Phone Lines To Block Basic Police Reforms: Call Now!

On Bastille Day, at 4:20am, the Massachusetts Senate passed a 70-page police reform bill. Two weeks remain for the House to consider it, and for the governor to sign it, in the midst of an acute public health and economic crisis. Police organizations are burning up the phone lines to prevent the House from acting on it. Please call your House Rep today, to prevent the House from mincing its key provisions into oblivion.

In our view, the key provisions are:

  • Police rape of people in their custody will be outlawed.
  • Police will no longer be able to use qualified immunity as a defense in civil lawsuits, unless “no reasonable person” could have considered the behavior at issue to be unlawful. This will sharply increase the chance that a resident whose rights the police violate, can obtain damages.*
  • Police will no longer be able to use face surveillance. This moratorium extends through December 31, 2021.
  • Police will no longer be legally obliged to provide school resource officers. It will be up to the school superintendent whether they want to ask for an officer.
  • School information sharing with police “gang” units not connected to an immediate threat to life, will be barred.
  • Chokeholds that have the “intent or result” of causing “unconsciousness or death” are banned.
  • No-knock warrants will now only be issued if a judge attests that there is probable cause of an imminent danger to life.
  • Elected officials will be able to review and approve or disapprove of police military equipment acquisitions, after public hearings.

S2800 also has some important flaws and limitations:

  • It does nothing to reform the fusion centers, which spy on Massachusetts residents uninvolved in actual crimes.
  • It does nothing directly to assist people and communities wrecked by the banal daily evils of the carceral state, and was not constructed on the basis of deep, lengthy or substantive conversations with them.
  • It leaves in place our unjust civil asset forfeitures system, which steals millions annually in cash, cars and other property.
  • It’s weighed down with an array of futile language appointing commissions and funding retraining of police.
  • The language relating to face surveillance, tear gas, chokeholds and police decertification processes is weaker than we would like. We’re advocating separately relating to the face surveillance provisions.

However, based on long experience, we also believe that if any of the bill’s good provisions had come up before the Public Safety Committee during the regular committee process, they would have failed; and that there’s simply not enough time left in the two-year legislative session, which ends July 31, to start over with a broader and more consultative process.

We’re not waiting another two years. Taken together, this bill represents substantial progress towards our goal of restoring the Fourth Amendment in Massachusetts. Please call today!

*If found liable, the individual officer would still be indemnified against personal loss, except for portions of a judgment exceeding $1 million, for actions committed outside the scope of their official duties, and for actions that are “wilful, wanton or malicious” (MGL ch. 258 s. 9A). In practice, this means that public budgets will still bear 99.98% of the cost burden for police misconduct.

Boston Just Banned Face Surveillance. What Now?

The Boston City Council voted unanimously on June 24 to ban government use of face surveillance technologies. Face surveillance systems are systematically worse at recognizing women and people of color, partly because the training datasets they learn with contain a preponderance of white, middle-aged men. Nothing about our criminal justice system requires the adoption of a technology that biases arrests and charging decisions more against Black people.

But if the technology ever somehow overcomes that, and becomes one hundred percent accurate, it becomes immensely more terrifying. In many cities already across the world, the police track wherever you go in public, and the authorities can easily form a picture of your habits and activities, to keep in their pockets for whenever you’re accused of a crime – or for whenever you grow inconvenient to them in other ways. Now, thanks to years of work by the #BosCops and #PressPause coalitions, which we’ve been a part of from the start, Boston will not be one of those cities. This matters.

Now we turn to what’s next. Face surveillance is a unique kind of threat, but the police should not deploy any surveillance technology without public hearings, and without the knowledge and approval of local elected officials. Those officials should have the power to approve or deny the use of such technologies. The surveillance state needs a little more sand in its gears, to stop the continuous ratchet of more and more invasive technologies. Next month – probably – the City Council will consider a surveillance ordinance that would do all that. Similar ordinances are already on the books in Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Lawrence, Northampton, and (as of July 1) Easthampton too, and many other municipalities across the nation.

But the face surveillance ordinance itself still, like any ordinance, has loopholes and limitations. We’ve written to the Boston City Council to lay out some of those problems:

  • So there won’t be a public network of City-owned cameras; what happens if there’s a private network, and the City simply requests that footage?
  • The City has the authority to regulate whether and how private businesses deploy face surveillance in the City. To address this, the city-wide ban on face surveillance should be amended to include language on how sports stadiums like Fenway Park, the TD Garden and retail stores like Home Depot, Macy’s, Best Buy and Kohl’s will be permitted to use face surveillance software, and require them to disclose use of it to the public.
  • And we still don’t know whether MBTA uses facial recognition; City agencies, including the police, should need a warrant for their footage.

Here’s our testimony on these points. And if you’d like to help with our continuing municipal campaigns to rein in surveillance in Massachusetts, email us today!

https://warrantless.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Digital-Fourth-response-to-Facial-Recognition-ban-070720.pdf

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