The ACLU of Rhode Island issued the following statement in response to this morning’s news conference by the Providence Mayor and Police Department announcing their intention to turn on 25 Flock Safety cameras throughout the City within the next 30 days.
“While purporting to promote ‘transparency and accountability,’ the Providence Police Department is moving ahead with the implementation of an incredibly invasive surveillance camera system even though a majority of City Council members have signed on to a City Council resolution urging its delay. City officials are moving ahead with this surveillance system without the benefit of any public hearings, instead offering to consider holding one only after the cameras are already being used. And their alleged support for accountability rings even more hollow in light of their opposition to the passage of any ordinance that would restrict the ways in which this surveillance technology can be used or that would establish enforceable penalties for its misuse.
“As the manufacturers of this technology regularly tout more, and more expansive, ways of tracking people and their vehicles with this equipment, the dangers to fundamental privacy rights simply cannot be brushed away. Further, one need only look at the many highly publicized incidents where Providence police officers have been found, against departmental policy, not to have activated their body cameras to recognize that promises of ‘audits’ and assurances that the Flock Safety technology will not be abused are meaningless.
“In short, the way this technology is being deployed by Providence undercuts transparency and accountability. Such a grossly unregulated and deeply intrusive police surveillance system should be of concern to all who value privacy.”
More information on the ACLU of RI’s concerns about the technology, including the testimony submitted on the police department’s proposed policy, can be found here.