Santa Cruz Should Listen to the Community, Not Surveillance Corporations

COVID-19 is a health crisis we need to fight together; it shouldn’t be exploited by surveillance corporations seeking to profit. As the people of Santa Cruz shelter in place and the City looks for ways to keep everyone safe and healthy, we must remain vigilant against businesses that would use this crisis to install invasive and dangerous surveillance technology that health experts haven’t endorsed. If adopted, this technology will haunt us long after the pandemic has passed, disproportionately harming the same communities most devastated by the virus: immigrants, the unhoused, and people of color.

Now is the time to act. There’s a proposed law in front of the City Council, introduced by Mayor Cummings, that will protect Santa Cruz residents from unnecessary surveillance using a tried and tested framework based on community consent and democratic oversight. Sign this petition to make sure we don’t get through this crisis only to have Big Brother waiting on the other side.

Dear Mayor Cummings and Members of the Santa Cruz City Council,

Thank you all for your hard work to keep the people of Santa Cruz safe and healthy during this crisis. The decisions that we make now will be with us for years to come, which is why we urge you to adopt the strong Surveillance Technology Ordinance that was introduced by Mayor Cummings and passed by the Public Safety Committee.

Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that any technology the city adopts serves public health needs. There’s a real danger that if the city hastily installs surveillance technology without the community’s knowledge or consent, we could be left with systems that permanently curtail the privacy and freedom of all Santa Cruz residents. We already see predatory companies trying to re-brand their products as COVID-19 fighting tools. This law will help us see through these dangerous attempts to use a public health crisis as a business opportunity.

The Ordinance ensures Santa Cruz residents and the City Council have a voice in decisions about surveillance. It also protects the people of Santa Cruz by taking facial recognition and predictive policing software off the table for government use. Both are dystopic, racially discriminatory technologies with known biases that will put innocent lives at risk. Worse still, these systems will disproportionately harm the people most vulnerable to this virus: immigrants, the unhoused, and people of color.

Together, we can make sure that Santa Cruz doesn’t move forward with surveillance technology that will harm the community, both during this crisis and beyond. With your help, we can stop dangerous technologies from taking root and protect the safety, health, and civil rights of all our residents.