Mar 052013

In no particular order, following are suggestions I’ve received from others about Seattle City Council Bill 117730, which would regulate the acquisition and use of certain surveillance equipment by municipal government.  I support all these.  (See also my initial thoughts on the bill.)

  • Seattle Police Department have a history of poor management of video and of audit logs. Consider having a different department handling audits.
  • Bill does not set out any methods of enforcement. What happens when violations occur?
  • Provide more focus on audit logs, as they are extremely important.
    • What are they?
    • How can the public access them?
    • How are they separate from and independent of the recordings themselves, and how do public access to each vary?
  • Explicitly state that open source software is desired, as are off-the-shelf, commodity, hardware components.
  • Data are more important than hardware used to collect and software used to manage. Store in such a manner that basic metadata are in-built (e.g., name files with latitude, longitude, camera angle, and UTC ISO-8601 timestamp and period of recording)
  • Require that all surveillance protocols be public.
  • Uphold the Fourth Amendment. If a warrantless, sneak-and-peak search is performed (e.g., USA PATRIOT Act Section 215) or a search is conducted with a sealed warrant, this should be logged specifically as such.
    • Logging should be performed with a third party–not SPD. Maybe Office of the Mayor.
  • Safety first. If during the course of a surveillance operation, a person is in harm’s way and disclosure of this danger could expose the surveillance operation, the surveillance team should have a duty to put public safety before continued secrecy of the operation.
  • If someone discovers a surveillance operation in progress, he or she should be allowed to file a police report, and an investigation should be performed. The reporting party should be notified immediately upon determination of whether or not the reported activity was part of a surveillance operation.
    • Important for victims of domestic violence.
  • Place automatic sunset provisions on any and all–even secret–aspects of surveillance.
  • Addresses used for wire rooms and surveillance must be accounted for in a budget (house and apartment rentals, vans, etc.).
    • This will allow us to perform cost-benefit analysis and to recognize if costs are spiraling out of control.
  • Require disclosure of addresses of homes used once use of them ends.
    • This will allow the surrounding community to know that they and/or their neighbors have been under surveillance.
  • Log all non-SPD contact (e.g., with FBI, TSA, DEA, ICE, Secret Service, DHS, regional Fusion Center, etc.) that requests assistance, clearance, or notification of surveillance.
    • If, for instance, FBI are conducting a raid, the local police should be aware so that they do not mistakenly believe a crime is in progress.
    • This should not be a matter simply of coordination; audit of these logs should be performed.
  • Require that any government surveillance operations undertaken in Seattle, even those performed by non-local agencies, be logged with Seattle Police Department.
  • Require that all logs include specifics of the equipment used and activities undertaken, the legal justification for data collection, the full names and badge numbers of peace officers involved, and whether or not there was notification of surveillance to the target of surveillance.
  • Require that each time a person has been under surveillance and the data collection ends, the person be notified, and this notification be logged. Lack of notification should also be logged. This information should become public record. Even if not public record, it should be provided in the event that a Privacy Act Request is made by the target of surveillance.
  • Breach of government surveillance system security should be made a matter of public record and the close of the investigation of the breach.
  • Designate a chief security officer who will be specifically charged with monitoring the integrity of police surveillance systems.

This bill is on the agenda for discussion at the Wednesday, March 6, 2013, meeting of Seattle City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee.

 Posted by at 1:16 pm

  One Response to “More feedback on Seattle City Council bill to regulate local government surveillance”

  1. Also: Require that all cameras be publicly accessible. Why should only certain law enforcement offers get access? More transparency means more accountability.

    Separately: “Rich California town considers license plate readers for entire city limits”

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