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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
News :: Organizing : Technology
Cambridge City Council Votes Unanimously to Oppose Surveillance Cameras
05 Feb 2009
BOSTON -- In the first move of this kind in the state -- and perhaps the
nation -- Cambridge City Council voted 9-0 on February 2, 2009, to oppose
the installation in the city of eight surveillance cameras. The cameras
were intended to form part of a network funded with a $4.6 million
Department of Homeland Security grant linking Cambridge and eight other
Greater Boston communities.
The Council took this action after two sessions during which Councilors
sought to learn more about a secretive grant process that was four to six
years in the making. They also heard testimony from dozens of Cambridge
residents who feared the cameras could violate their First Amendment and
privacy rights.

"The Councilors were rightly concerned that they had been kept in the dark
about the cameras for four years or more," said Cambridge resident Nancy
Murray, the Director of Education at the American Civil Liberties Union of
Massachusetts. "And even after a briefing from the Police Commissioner and
Fire Chief on January 22, they did not get answers to basic questions. What
agencies would have access to the camera┬╣s digital images? Where would they
be stored and for how long? Would they be transmitted to the Commonwealth
Fusion Center? What guarantees would residents have that they would not
used for purposes other than the stated one of traffic control?"

After the Cambridge Chronicle broke the story on August 13, 2008 about a
plan to install the camera network in Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline and
other Greater Boston communities, Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker
approached the ACLU of Massachusetts with her concerns about the DHS grant.
The ACLU created educational materials and organized a public meeting in
Cambridge on November 20, 2008, to inform residents about the technological
capacity and potential use and abuse of the web of surveillance cameras and
fusion centers that has been erected across the country in the name of
"fighting terrorism."

In Brookline, where residents also mounted a vigorous opposition to the
cameras with the help of the ACLU, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 in mid
January to give them a one-year trial. The Cambridge Council vote could
encourage camera opponents in Brookline to take their battle to the Town
Meeting in the spring.

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