EFFbizCams

San Francisco Police Accessed Business District Camera Network to Spy on Protestors

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) conducted mass surveillance of protesters at the end of May and in early June using a downtown business district’s camera network, according to new records obtained by EFF. The records show that SFPD received real-time live access to hundreds of cameras as well as a “data dump” of camera footage amid the ongoing demonstrations against police violence.

The camera network is operated by the Union Square Business Improvement District (BID), a special taxation district created by the City and County of San Francisco, but operated by a private non-profit organization. These networked cameras, manufactured by Motorola Solutions’ brand Avigilon, are high definition, can zoom in on a person’s face to capture face-recognition ready images, and are linked to a software system that can automatically analyze content, including distinguishing between when a car or a person passes within the frame.

Motorola Solutions recently unveiled plans to expand its portfolio of tools for aiding public-private partnerships with law enforcement by making it easier for police to gain access to private cameras and video analytic tools like license plate readers.

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