A photograph of a wall of surveillance cameras with a yellow and black engraving effect applied to the photograph

Tell Sonoma County: Prevent Unchecked Surveillance

Sonoma is at a crossroads. Corporations are developing extreme surveillance products – like facial recognition and predictive policing software – that are rife with racial biases and selling them to city police departments eager to put them in our neighborhoods. We have a choice: Will we be swept away by technology that would put Sonoma residents under constant monitoring? Or will we take control, and protect our right to live our lives freely, and in the open?

Sign the petition and help build the power we need to and bring surveillance in Sonoma under control of the community.

Read our message to Sonoma County lawmakers:

One of the main lessons from last summer’s protests for racial justice is the need to shift power: away from racially discriminatory systems of policing, and towards the communities whose voices have long been excluded. The passing of Measure P last November has shown that the people of Sonoma County demand law enforcement agencies operate with transparency. That principal should be extended to surveillance technology. What we let into our neighborhoods cannot be left up to cops or corporations. The people of Sonoma need to be the ones in control.

Right now, our cities are unprepared. We know that many surveillance technologies, from facial recognition, to predictive policing software, are embedded with racial bias. We know that police agencies have large discretion in the surveillance programs they enact and without civilian guidance these programs expand beyond their scope of the limits of the law. We know that agencies like ICE are trying to use our local technology against us. And we know the history of surveillance – how these technologies are disparately pointed at activists, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ people.

Some of these technologies can be addressed through democratic oversight, while others are so invasive and toxic that government use should be banned completely.

We call on you to build on Measure P and pass a surveillance accountability and transparency law to bring surveillance out of the shadows and under democratic control. Using a proven model adopted by cities across the country, including Oakland, Santa Clara, and New York, this ordinance will set up safeguards so that no surveillance technology is rolled out in our neighborhoods without the community’s consent. These safeguards include commonsense good governance measures, like requiring public debate, a process for oversight, and rules to prevent misuse.

We also call on you to join the rapidly growing movement to ban facial recognition. Cities from coast to coast are recognizing that this technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy. We should be able to live our lives without worry that all our activities are being monitored and tracked by the government.

As a community, Sonoma county has an opportunity to use the power of local democracy to protect our right to live freely, openly, and safely. Without proper oversight, these surveillance programs will only grow more extreme and prevalent. If we act now, we can codify Sonoma’s values into law, and secure our future from dangerous technology for years to come.

To Sonoma County Lawmakers:

I urge you to protect the safety, free expression, and democratic engagement of the people in Sonoma by passing surveillance accountability and transparency ordinances on the city and county level.