email to BART board re: surveillance technology (again)

For the BART Board meeting of August 9th, 2018, in reaction to recent stabbings on BART, the BART police have submitted a proposal with just three days’ notice of a kind of dragnet system similar to the DAC that activists successfully opposed a couple years ago.

I wasn’t able to make the 9am meeting, but sent in the following email comment.

Subject: don’t rush proposed surveillance technology

I understand that people are on edge from recent attacks on BART. But we should not rush into adopting new surveillance technologies without a proper period of consideration and public comment, especially not before passing a surveillance transparency ordinance.

Any surveillance system could be used by federal agencies. As I understand it, the FBI could even use National Security Letters to get access without public disclosure. The FBI sometimes works with ICE (see the recent Intercept article on their cooperation in a retaliatory arrest of a young immigrant activist), and ICE is a clearly malicious agency at this point. ICE has been, among other things, deliberately separating children from their parents, jailing them in facilities where some of them have been sexually abused.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda now includes a proposal to prevent *legal* immigrants from getting citizenship if they have used public assistance of any kind, including Obamacare or even certain tax credits.

How far-fetched is it really, that the federal government could use a facial recognition or people-tracking system installed by BART to find and deport immigrants en masse?

I myself am an immigrant, and even though I am documented, I still fear the federal government’s power and capriciousness. I do not trust the Trump administration not to bend, change, or break the existing rules in their anti-immigrant zeal.

The last thing we should be doing is building powerful systems of surveillance that can so easily be misused, without proper consideration of the consequences.

Please vote no on this proposal by the BART police.

Thank you,
Martin MacKerel

San Francisco resident

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