Civil Liberties

San Francisco Cops Lean on Nightclubs to Become Arms of Security/Surveillance State


Interesting/horrifying report from San Francisco nightclub DNA Lounge:

Officer Chan, the permitting officer for SFPD, called to remind us that we're required to have video surveillance that records everything our customers do, and to give that footage to SFPD any time they ask, without a warrant or explanation. "Actually, that's not the case, I'm not required to do that," says Barry. "It's a part of the Good Neighbor Policy," says the cop. "No, actually, it's not. And it's also not a condition of our permits."

"Well! I guess I'll have to speak to the Entertainment Commission about that, then!"

Thirty minutes later, Barry got a call from this guy's boss, admitting that while we're not technically required to, we really, really should "consider" it. After some back and forth, he says, "Should I take from this conversation that you're not willing to consider this?" "We have considered it, which is why we fought to have that condition not put on our permits."

Someone from the Entertainment Commission said, "Yeah, it's really weird that you don't have that condition, because they're putting that on everybody's permits now. Nobody else has fought it."

Which isn't surprising, since apparently everyone who works for SFPD is going around telling everyone that it's required by law when that's not even remotely true. It's just another sneaky, backdoor regulation that ABC and SFPD have been foisting on everyone without any kind of judicial oversight, in flagrant violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Remember, they tried to get this written into the law back in 2010 and got their asses handed to them, so instead they've just been making it a condition of every new permit ever since. Because they think that they get to just make up laws, all on their own.

The more the state is in your business–the more we allow the state to be in our business–the more they will do this sort of backdoor deputizing to make private information collection a tool for the state (generally the only real reason to fear private information collection).

In the world of telecom, there are big important lawsuits on this same principle, and as I blogged last week, sometimes in court the good guys win, as in the this decision knocking down national security letters on First Amendment grounds. 

At least the cops didn't try to tell DNA Lounge it couldn't write about their illegitimate requests. Yet.

Reason on surveillance

[Hat tip: Tom Price]