Commentary: How San Diego may be spying on you

" On Constitution Day, I joined with a diverse group of community members for a press conference to call on our government to protect our constitutional right to privacy.

We called for an immediate moratorium on the use, installation, and acquisition of Smart Streetlights until a legally enforceable ordinance that protects privacy, provides effective safeguards and ensures public oversight is put in place. We must mitigate impacts on privacy and civil liberties.

The Smart Streetlights program was sold to our City Council as an environmental project back in December 2016 — a full two and a half years before the city ever held a single community forum on the technology. This “Intelligent Cities Lighting Project” was billed as a “cost-savings effort for the city to replace high energy use streetlights with more efficient LED lights.” There was no discussion about surveillance issues and privacy concerns. In fact, Jen Lebron — Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s then-spokesperson — boasted in 2017 that the Smart Streetlights were approved by our City Council “without discussion of potential privacy issues raised by the surveillance system.”

Further, SDPD said it only learned of the technology’s capabilities last year. This contradicts an article by Reuters in February 2017 that reported that “General Electric will put cameras, microphones and sensors on 3,200 street lights in San Diego this year.” SDPD has already acknowledged that audio recording capabilities are installed in the smart sensors, but it has not been activated yet, which begs the question: Who has the power to “turn it on” and under what circumstances?

Smart Streetlights are fully equipped for impermissible and intrusive surveillance through additional technology, yet nothing prevents SDPD from acquiring this technology and using it against San Diegans as we go about our daily lives."

Read more at: