The Sunny Side of Mass Surveillance

New Oakland hub will collect and analyze data from around the city -- including social media monitoring.

Next year, Oakland, California, will launch something called the Domain Awareness Center, which will serve as a surveillance hub for Oakland-area law enforcement and their partners in the federal government. As The New York Times has reported, the center will "collect and analyze reams of surveillance data from around town—from gunshot-detection sensors in the barrios of East Oakland to license plate readers mounted on police cars patrolling the city’s upscale hills." Also on that list: Social media monitoring. 

As usually happens when government announces it's going to do something like this, privacy and civil liberties advocates are furious. And, as usually happens when privacy and civil liberties advocates get furious, Oakland officials are promising that the information will be used not to spy, but to aid criminal investigations. The Times provides this example of how the data center would synthesize and use information: 

[I]f two men were caught on camera at the port stealing goods and driving off in a black Honda sedan, Oakland authorities could look up where in the city the car had been in the last several weeks. That could include stoplights it drove past each morning and whether it regularly went to see Oakland A’s baseball games.

Such technological aspirations are not unique to Oakland.

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