Local Government Transparency on Surveillance

March 24, 2015

Given the rapid pace of technological change, it can be hard for citizens to know what surveillance equipment is being used by their local governments, particularly police departments. Too often, new surveillance technologies are purchased and used without adequate consideration of the privacy implications, leaving policymakers scrambling to retroactively design limits when abuses come to light. To address these issues, the ACLU’s West Michigan Lawyers Committee worked with the City of Grand Rapids to develop a proactive city privacy policy. The policy, which was adopted in March 2015, requires city departments that acquire new surveillance equipment to obtain prior City Commission approval and to develop operational and data management protocols that spell out why the surveillance technology is needed, how it will be used, what the privacy implications are, and for how long data will be retained. 

(ACLU Attorney Miriam Aukerman and Legal Fellow Marc Allen; Cooperating Attorneys Peter Armstrong, Joe Marogil and Diann Landers.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.

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