The presentation lists license plate readers, facial recognition and field fingerprint scanning as potential uses of the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (BayRICS) network.
The East Bay Regional Communications System Authority (EBRCSA) was officially created on September 11, 2007 with the formation of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA). In California State Statute, a JPA is viewed as an independent governmental agency with the same powers that accrue to one of the member agencies. Currently there are 43 member agencies consisting of both counties, 30 cities, 6 special districts, 3 Colleges, Dublin-San Ramon Services District and the California Department of Transportation serving a population of over 2.5 million people. The Board of Directors is made up of 23 representatives consisting of Elected Officials, Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs, and City Managers who will be responsible for the overall development, operations and funding of the system.
Representatives from both counties have been working together for over 6 years using Homeland Security grants funds from the Bay Area Security Initiative (UASI), State Homeland Security (SHSGP) grant programs, and COPS grant funds to fund infrastructure build out while the JPA formation process moved forward. CTA Communications completed a detailed system design and operational cost model, the system is estimated to cost approximately $70 million. To date, the EBRCSA has secured close to $51 million in Federal Homeland Security grants to build out the infrastructure.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation claims DHS’s domestic surveillance drone information shouldn’t be kept secret:
DHS should identify counties where it conducts surveillance drone flights over U.S. soil, a digital privacy rights group urged a federal judge.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the agency late last year for information on, among other things, the policies that the department and its component Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) had in place for domestic surveillance by unmanned aircraft.
Litigation has since won the digital civil liberties group three years of redacted “daily reports” revealing that the department arranged more than 500 flights for dozens of law-enforcement organizations, and that more than a fifth of these flights helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the EFF says.
The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and several branches of the military also received drone assistance as well as several County Sheriff’s Offices, the locations of which were redacted.
Both parties have filed motions for summary judgment.
The government argues that the release of specific information about drone flights “might create a risk of circumvention of the law because persons could target their illegal activity in those areas where CBP is not authorized to fly, thus impeding ongoing enforcement activities.”
But the EFF says the government has failed to produce evidence to substantiate its fears.
“Despite admitting that numerous investigative techniques related to Predator drone surveillance are publicly known or routine, the government asserts that there are details related to these techniques that still remain secret,” its reply brief filed Tuesday states. “Yet, the government fails to provide substantial evidence of the alleged secrecy of these details or any basis for this Court to assess whether the additional disclosure of such details would result in a reasonable risk of circumvention.”
The nonprofit noted that the average county size along the U.S.-Mexico border, where most of the drone activity occurs, is 7,573 square miles.
Such sizes make it highly unlikely the release of county-location information would let a particular suspected criminal link drone surveillance to his activity, the EFF claimed.
“Defendant has not rebutted plaintiff’s argument that counties in areas where CBP flies are so large, and criminal behavior so prevalent, that it wouldn’t affect criminal behavior to release locations of operations and maps related to Predator drone flights or the names of various county sheriffs’ departments,” the EFF’s reply brief states. “As such, this information should be released.”
Even if the court finds some of this information should remain confidential, the nonprofit said that the government has not segregated exempt from nonexempt information, as many pages of the government’s release contain large blocks of redacted text.
If the court has any doubts about ordering the documents’ release, “EFF suggests that in camera inspection of some of all of the records at issue would be appropriate.”