The Edward Snowden revelations shined a spotlight on the NSA and stirred up widespread outrage over warrantless surveillance. But Congress did nothing.
In fact, it has extended surveillance “authority” and given federal agencies even more leeway to spy on Americans. But while D.C. politicians have shown little willingness rein in the ever-expanding surveillance state, activists have had more success addressing the issue at the local level.
Earlier this month, the Oakland, California, City Council gave final approval to a local ordinance that sets the stage to limit the acquisition and use of spy gear by law enforcement and other city agencies. Activists called it the strongest such ordinance in the country, saying it gives “Oakland communities the power to understand the technologies that are being proposed in the city and to have a voice in saying if, when and how surveillance is used in the city.”
The new ordinance ensures there will be public notice and debate before the city acquires or uses surveillance technology. Specifically, the new law requires all city entities to seek city council approval before purchasing or using any new surveillance technology or equipment, and before accepting grant funds for such gear. The new law creates a multi-step process. City agencies, including police, must submit a “surveillance use policy” to the Privacy Advisory Commission for consideration. The city council must then ad