Surveillance

Oakland vs. Government Surveillance! Defeating the Domain Awareness Center

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"Whether it's going back to the free speech movement, the Black Panthers, Occupy Oakland… we fight back," says Brian Hofer, an attorney affiliated with the Oakland Privacy Working Group, an association of Oakland residents fighting against the city's proposed Domain Awareness Center (DAC).

The DAC began as a project to surveil the city's port, but the mandate soon expanded with a $10.9 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security to expand surveillance to the entire city, with plans to run CCTV cameras, license plate scanners, and public databases into the center. The DAC represents just one of 73 DHS-funded fusion centers across the country, but it was the first with the ambition to run both port and city surveillance into a single center, leading Hofer to dub it the first "NSA municipal outpost."

"We are a testing grounds," says Hofer. "'Let's see what we can get away in Oakland.' Well, we're fighting back again."

Recently, Hofer's group, in conjunction with the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other privacy activists, scored a major victory by pressuring the city council to put a hold on development of the center into more advanced phases. For now, the scope remains limited to the city's port and airport.

Watch Reason TV's interview with Hofer above to see what other cities across the nation might learn from Oakland's fight for privacy. 

Approximately 7 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Sharif Matar.

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