Limiting Surveillance Technology by Ordinance

FYI, Folks: This proposed Ordinance, pasted as an attachment to the Order below, on the purchase and use of surveillance technology in Cambridge was on the Council’s agenda this past Monday but I was too disorganized over the weekend to let you know about it. It is a very comprehensive proposal, covering everything from radio scanners to body cameras and beyond. I have not read it thoroughly yet, but I don’t think it covers private use of surveillance technology and I am not sure how it might impact programs like traffic counting or red light cameras, the former of which is something we may start having to use as people move away from handheld traffic counts, or non-Cambridge organizations like the T.  If you have thoughts about this proposal, or surveillance in general, you can email the entire Council at I don’t know how much we can stop, or even alter, the progress of surveillance technology and given how much personal information people share voluntarily via Facebook, the GPS systems, google use and so forth, I’m not sure how much people really care but I think this sort of discussion and this sort of Ordinance is exactly the sort of thing we should be constantly revisiting even if all it does is to remind people of the sort of surveillance options that are out there.

Thanks a lot and have a great Thanksgiving.


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Policy Order

POR 2016 #310

That the City Manager is requested to forward the Surveillance Ordinance language to the City Solicitor in order for this language to be vetted and transcribed in such a way that will allow it to be ultimately referred to the Ordinance Committee for consideration at a future hearing.


Department: City Clerk’s Office, DS Sponsors: Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen
Category: Policy Order


Version History

  1. An Act To Promote Transparency and Protect Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


WHEREAS: The City Council believes it is essential to have an informed public debate as early as possible about decisions related to surveillance technology; and
WHEREAS: No decisions relating to surveillance technology in Cambridge should occur without strong consideration being given to the impact such technologies may have on civil rights and civil liberties, including those rights guaranteed by the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS: Many people are concerned that surveillance technology could threaten the privacy of citizens, as surveillance efforts have historically been used to intimidate and oppress certain communities and groups more than others, and the groups that often are threatened by such technology are typically defined by a common race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, income level, sexual orientation, or political perspective; and
WHEREAS: Legally enforceable safeguards, including robust transparency, oversight, and accountability measures, must be in place to protect civil rights and civil liberties before any surveillance technology is deployed, and this body has come down in opposition to enacting such technology as recently as 2009; and
WHEREAS: If a surveillance technology were to be approved for the City of Cambridge, data reporting measures would need to be adopted in order to empower the City Council and the public to verify that civil rights and civil liberties safeguards have been strictly adhered to; and
WHEREAS: The City Council finds that the full cost of a surveillance technology should be considered and made publically available to analyze whether its financial benefits outweigh its costs and whether an expenditure on such a technology is in the best interest of the City; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to forward the attached language to the City Solicitor in order for this language to be vetted and transcribed in such a way that will allow it to be ultimately referred to the Ordinance Committee for consideration at a future hearing.


2 Responses to “Limiting Surveillance Technology by Ordinance”

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  1. GENTLEMAN says:

    Yahtzee is one of the most famous and incredible place of fun no any other one is as popular like it i think you should also played it and share the information too.

  2. Craig Kelley says:

    A video of Chinese surveillance efforts:

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