California local governments have spent $45 million on spying technology, report says


A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union attempts to document for the first time what local governments in California are spending for what the ACLU considers to be spying on its citizens.

The report s the first attempt to show the extent of surveillance technologies being used in counties across California. It was compiled by combing through the minutes of public meetings in which budgets and spending were discussed. The report offers county-by-county tallies of who’s using what and examines the process for adopting the technology in each case.

Are there drones, license plate readers, or other surveillance technologies in use in your community? How much money has been spent? Was there public debate? Are there surveillance use policies to help prevent misuse?

The ACLU has even put together an interactive map, where readers can see the spending and equipment used county by county.

The report surveyed 118 different cities and counties across the state. It found that 90 of those use surveillance technology, but only 5 held public debate before purchasing the tools. In all, more than $45 million has been spent on everything from drones to body cameras to facial-recognition technology, according to the report.

“Leaders and residents want to know when and why surveillance is being considered, what it is intended to do, and what it will really cost — both in dollars and in individual rights — before taking any steps to seek funding or acquire or deploy surveillance technology,” the group’s Web site says. “They also want to craft robust rules to ensure proper use, oversight, and accountability if surveillance is used.”


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