ACLU study on video surveillance

Dear All:
  Before we vote on funds for Starchild's privacy brochure, take a look at this document the ACLU sent us. I will be bringing the print copy to the meeting tomorrow.

Francoise Fielding
820 Stanyan Street,#5
San Francisco, CA 94117


This is an important study. I would like to put its discussion on the agenda.

Best, Michael

Michael and Francoise,

  I agree it's an important study, and it's pretty cool that the ACLU sent it to us. I'm glad we are on their radar screen!

  Mike Acree, do you have an electronic copy of your pink tri-fold GLBTQ rights brochure? I'm wondering what the word count is, and how it compares to what I've written so far. Certainly there is probably a lot more content from the ACLU piece that could be added. Does anyone have any specific suggestions? Those of you who felt we should stay silent on the issue of non-government surveillance will please note that the ACLU raises precisely the same objection to private cameras that I did:

"Cities across the country are jumping on the surveillance bandwagon. In Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley has announced that he wants the city to have a camera on almost every corner by 2016. Not all of these cameras are government-funded and controlled—large numbers are privately owned surveillance cameras. Even the private cameras, however, contribute to the overall expansion of government surveillance because the government can ask businesses for access to video footage."

Love & Liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>


You raise an important point anent private surveillance cameras.

I suggested we include this in the agenda to avoid extensive email exchanges on it, so I'll comment only briefly then shut up until today's meeting.

Rather than pushing for their prohibition, I recommend we call for the abolition of any law or statute requiring private businesses to give Govt access to video footage, in conjunction with a clause prohibiting the Govt from even requesting this.

Best, Michael

Latest version is 1056 words; I had to put it in a 10-point font.


  Is it your impression that supporting government interference in private activities is in any way a new trend with the ACLU? Haven't they been supporting racial preferences, opposing school choice, and the like since before you and I were old enough to be thinking about such things?

  You mention that government bans on anything, including private surveillance seem to you a bad idea. I agree that this has the appearance of straightforward libertarian common sense. But let's examine the issue a little further. For example, how about a government ban on government employees searching your home, car or person without a warrant? That would be a good ban, wouldn't it? Maybe it's just government bans on non-government actions that are bad. But what if government decided to get around the ban described above by outsourcing its searches, so that instead of government employees performing the searches, they were done by others, and government was merely purchasing the data? If it is justifiable to have a ban not just on government conducting unwarranted searches, isn't it also justifiable to ban government acquiring data for the purpose of conducting such searches? And doesn't a careful analysis of high-resolution video camera footage in a public place amount to an unwarranted search?

  Riding home with Bryce from the LPSF meeting today I was kind of thinking out loud, and realized that I tend to evaluate various types of surveillance in terms of whether they tend to primarily empower individuals over government, or government over individuals. For instance: