Oakland’s Got a Creeper: Peeping Tom/Uncle Sam and the DAC

Oakland’s Got a Creeper: Peeping Tom/Uncle Sam and the DAC

Oakland, California has an infamous identity for its law enforcement-citizen relations. However, the sake of a good reputation comes as no incentive for folks to give into authority—something you might expect from an expressive liberal citizenry.


Yet, in this case, Oakland is not concerned about being seen, but quite the opposite. They just want their privacy—not something you might expect from an expressive liberal citizenry.


You see there is a peculiar set of eyes upon the city’s residents. The Oakland community has got itself a creeper.


In a recent attempt to produce the nation’s first National Security Association (NSA) municipal post, those at the head of Oakland’s proposed Domain Awareness Center (DAC) teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with not only the intention of placing surveillance cameras, license plate scanners, and public databases within Oakland’s port and airport, but throughout the entire city.


This fits the sci-fi role of having an all-seeing robotic eyeball, or what is more commonly referred to as the law, but why is this so spooky? Would street surveillance not prove to be an effective crime stopper?


The truth is, the whole ordeal would not be nearly as concerning if not for the uncertainty in the national government’s sincerity of preventing violence and crime.


Oh yes, stopping violence and crime is a commendable ambition. However, Brian Hofer, an attorney associated with the Oakland Privacy Working Group (OPWG)—an organization fighting the citywide surveillance project—found this alleged crime-stopping technology to not be as heroic as its funders profess.


However, the DAC supporters did profess something, or perhaps it would be better to say they confessed something.


“We have over 7,000 documents right now, with over 3,000 emails, and never once does (the DAS) mention… rape, burglary, murder, assault,” Hofer said. “So the purpose (of the city-wide surveillance) is not crime. It was never about crime.”


If Hofer is correct, if not one single tactic to prevent violent crime resides within the DAC’s documents, one might believe there is an alternate motive. If both the federal government and the city of Oakland are not looking to perpetrate damage on crime output with their omniscient technology, what exactly are they trying to perpetrate?


Even if it is not something defective, it is definitely questionable. Moreover, it would not be unpatriotic to doubt this highly anticipated government action. Hofer, along with the rest of the OPWG, believe the government is looking to control protestors throughout the city by more or less tracking them through the previously mentioned methods (surveillance, license plate scanning, and usage of public databases). If done correctly, all of the information would be gathered in the DAC center, a safe spot where the federal government could easily access it.


Supposedly, that is not hypothetical.


Hofer said the city of Oakland had, in fact, agreed to share the collected information with the federal government. Hofer also said the main priority of the project would be to keep a keen eye on protestors. Additionally, he has a strong belief the government wants to be more informed on a racial basis. Essentially, it appears the government has a certain suspicion against minorities. Or, at the very least, they have an intriguingly high interest.


“It’s not just (political) dissent,” Hofer said. “It’s people of color.”


With their eyebrows raised humorously high, Hofer and the OPWG have had success in their fight against DAC funding. Just recently, OPWG was able to halt any further development of the DAC center. Indeed this is a win for the OPWG. However, this leaves one of the most dangerous cities in the United States only with permissioned surveillance of Oakland’s port and airport. Are those really the only places surveillance is needed?


Maybe. But the most thought-provoking question left for you is, does Oakland have itself a creeper, or is there a neighbor on the other side of the fence with eyebrows raised equally as high?


Well, that depends whom you ask, the people of the city or those who are put in charge of overseeing it.


Share your ideas on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.


(Photo Courtesy of STÉPHAN from Flickr Creative Commons)

For more on the story, you can refer to the interview here:
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