Calif. city wants to give police opportunity to access private security cameras

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The San Jose, Calif., police department would like access to its residents’ private security cameras, and if city Councilman Sam Liccardo has his way they will have multiple opportunities to make it happen.

Mr. Liccardo’s plan, which was unveiled Jan. 23, would allow property owners to voluntarily register their cameras with the San Jose Police Department’s database, the San Jose Mercury Newsreported.

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“It became apparent that there’s a lot of evidence out there that residents want to provide,” Mr. Liccardo told the paper while referencing private citizens who aided law enforcement’s attempt to halt a string of arson fires. He said the database “is something that costs very little but could have a big impact in making San Jose safer.”

A San Jose police spokeswoman told the Mercury News that the department is assessing all aspects of the program, including privacy concerns.

“To me the really interesting and troublesome part of it is the way we are starting to privatize government surveillance — to enlist private citizens in a way that is kind of unprecedented and could be potentially really dangerous,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, the paper reported. “Once you give the police unfettered access 24/7, you’re relying on them to exercise their restraint.”

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