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Public meetings on city’s initial six technologies meeting definition of ‘surveillance’

The City of Seattle last year defined 29 technologies that meet its definition of surveillance. The city is holding a series of five meetings to get public comments on the first six of those technologies. Each meeting will feature a short presentation on each technology, then attendees will break into small groups for discussion.

The closest meetings to our neighborhood are both at the Green Lake Library, 7364 East Green Lake Dr. N. The first meeting is from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, with a presentation by the Seattle Police Department. The final meeting is from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, with presentations by Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Fire Department.

This first group of technologies includes automated license plate readers, parking enforcement systems, hazardous materials cameras, emergency scene cameras, license plate readers and traffic cameras.

You also can comment online at seattle.gov/privacy or by mail to Surveillance & Privacy Program, Seattle IT, PO Box 94709, Seattle, WA 98124. The public comment period runs now through Nov. 5.

The recent update to the Surveillance Ordinance is grounded in current issues of government surveillance against historically and unfairly targeted communities, including undocumented immigrants. Departments hope to address potential community concerns about these technologies by providing details on the policies that govern their use.

To promote informed engagement, the City of Seattle has produced one-page overviews of each technology to supplement the Surveillance Impact Reports available for review. In the interest of equity, these, the flyers announcing the public meetings, and other materials have been translated into seven of the City’s common non-English languages, which are also available at seattle.gov/privacy.

This is the first round of public comment and covers technologies used for parking, traffic, and emergency response. No new surveillance technologies have been submitted for review since the Ordinance went into effect on September 1, 2017. For information on the technologies or Surveillance Ordinance visit seattle.gov/privacy.

Comments will be included in revised Surveillance Impact Reports and submitted to the newly created Surveillance Working Group, made up of external partners, for a civil liberties and equity assessment. The final Surveillance Impact Report will be presented to City Council and available to the public.