Posted on Categories Premium

In-Depth Interview: Activist Challenge Video Surveillance in Uber-Liberal Berkeley

Free Preview Clip

Tracy Rosenberg is a Bay Area activist who is leading a challenge to video surveillance in Berkeley, California

Are the agencies and tools intended to combat international terrorism being used more broadly against US citizens?

Ultra-liberal Berkeley, California, has been the scene of provocative demonstrations staged by right-wing groups in recent years that have sparked clashes with anti-fascist groups.

This podcast was first posted at WhoWhatWhy

And the Berkeley police secretly filmed the protests, using high-tech surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition and movement detection software, as confirmed by the activist group Oakland Privacy.

The Avigilon cameras were loaned by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, one of more than 70 regional “fusion centers” established across the nation since 9/11 — ostensibly to address international terrorism.

Tracy Rosenberg, a co-founder of Oakland Privacy, explains in this WhoWhatWhy podcast that Berkeley acquired its own Avigilon cameras, which were installed in San Pablo Park after a rash of gun violence nearby.

These cameras clearly conflict with Berkeley’s own surveillance transparency ordinance, and the city council is considering a ban on facial recognition tools — but with a proposed exemption for the system at San Pablo Park.

Rosenberg is critical of the “mission creep” represented by the use of anti-terrorism agencies and hardware on activities protected by the First Amendment, and comments on recent news about the Oregon Titan Fusion Center’s monitoring of individuals and groups who are opposed to the construction of an offshore liquefied natural gas platform at Coos Bay, Oregon.

She also talks about the recent use in New York of “reverse search warrants” in the case of the far-right extremist group known as the Proud Boys, where prosecutors ordered Google to disclose all active electronic devices in a particular geographical area after members of the group skirmished with unidentified left-wing activists.