Dawn Endico A Silicon Valley county has become the first in the United States to vote in a new law that requires “continued oversight and regular evaluation” for law enforcement agencies prior to the acquisition of surveillance technology.
The ordinance, which was unanimously approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, requires that the county sheriff and the district attorney’s office seek board approval before those agencies even begin the process of obtaining new snooping gear. The agencies are not required to immediately notify the board in exigent circumstances, but they must do so within 90 days.
Agencies must also submit a usage policy to the county government, and notably, an “Annual Surveillance Report,” which should describe what data the device captures, how the agency deals with information collected about people not suspected of any wrongdoing, and whether the gear has been effective, among other requirements.
“The ordinance doesn’t prohibit the acquisition of any surveillance technology,” Supervisor Joe Simitian, a longstanding local privacy advocate and former state senator, told Ars. “It says if you’re going to acquire any surveillance technology, let’s talk about privacy and due process rights.”
“The issue is not the technology. The question is whether…