2011/04/12

My email to the San Francisco Entertainment Commission

This is in response to the proposal to require surveillance cameras, ID scanners, data retention, and super-easy police access to data for all SF clubs.

Update

I attended the Entertainment Commission meeting on April 12th at 6:30pm at City Hall, Room 400. They "continued" (postponed) the issue because the mayor wants to look at it. Not sure whether that's a good or a bad sign. Many people left, but many stayed and all the comments were against. I imagine that you can still submit comments to the email addresses on their contact page. Email the Commission Aide and ask that it be made part of the Public Communications File and forwarded in real-time to the Commission members.

Also join Save the Rave.


First, the personal:

I like to dance, but it's difficult for me because I'll get self-conscious. Having surveillance cameras all over a club makes it damn near impossible unless I get really drunk - hardly an intended consequence, I would imagine.

When picking a venue for my wedding reception, one thing I looked for was an absence of surveillance cameras. I was glad to find an awesome, sizable venue that didn't have any cameras. I was able to relax, have fun, and dance my ass off. It was a great night. This recent proposal to the San Francisco Entertainment Commission endangers this. It would mean that many venues would be forced to install surveillance equipment. Given its size, no doubt my wedding venue would be one of them. Just one year later, that simple, empowering experience I had might not be possible any longer - at least not in San Francisco, in a venue that size.

However, I don't want to debate the merits of this proposal or try to plead why it's a bad idea. It's obviously a TERRIBLE idea! Shortly after the SFPD is caught illegally entering people's residences and forging paperwork, this proposal would give the police more power and less accountability, and set up more of a surveillance infrastructure in our fine city. The very nature of the requirements - keep lots of information on the basis of generalized suspicion - flies in the face of Fourth Amendment principles.

The Entertainment Commission is here considering the opposite of what it ought to be doing. It ought to be regulating the club owners' ability to surveille and keep information on patrons. It should at a minimum regulate video surveillance, ban ID scanning, forbid owners from using automated means to determine the real identity of patrons, and outlaw any kind of blacklist.

The fact that this proposal is before the Commission is itself a travesty. It never should have even gotten this far.

Martin

PS For a look at the larger concerns raised by this crazy proposal, see my post on The New Surveillance, The New Blacklist.

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