The ACLU, Digital Fourth, Cambridge residents, and other advocates have been organizing to pass a strong surveillance oversight ordinance in Cambridge, Massachusetts since the fall of 2016. This summer, we are close to crossing the finish line.
On August 13, 2018, the Ordinance Committee of the Cambridge City Council will meet to discuss the city’s latest draft of an ordinance that, if modified in key ways, will be the strongest surveillance oversight law on the east coast.
Like residents in California, Washington state, and Tennessee, Cambridge residents—in partnership with the ACLU and other groups—hope to pass a local law requiring City Council approval and ongoing oversight of all city surveillance technology acquisitions and use, including by the Cambridge Police Department.
We are very close to language that would do just that. With a few key changes to the existing language, the ordinance will ensure residents have a voice in determining whether technologies like face surveillance are ever deployed by city agencies, and if so, how. Community control over police surveillance is critical if we want to keep local democracy thriving into the century of big data, automation, and artificial intelligence.
If you can make it, please come to the ordinance committee hearing on August 13 at 5:30PM at Cambridge City Hall and voice your support for a strong ordinance that puts control in the hands of elected City Councilors. If you can’t make it but live in Cambridge, send the City Council a comment urging them to support the ACLU’s modifications to the city draft, to ensure Cambridge joins cities like Seattle and Oakland in maintaining community control over police surveillance.