Oppose License Plate Readers for everyone entering and exiting Alameda
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Dear Mayor Spencer and members of the Alameda City Council,
I am writing to urge you to vote 'No' on the proposal before City Council to install 13 license plate readers at all entrances to Alameda (item 6-C on 2/6/18 Council agenda). These readers would scan the information of all residents and visitors entering and exiting Alameda at all times. My main concerns with these readers are the high cost of installation and whether the benefit of crime reduction outweighs significant privacy concerns.
At a cost of $500,000 from the City's general fund to install, this is a significant cost to Alameda taxpayers that might be better spent on urgent quality of life issues such as additional housing and improved transportation options. A recent report from APD shows that while there has been a spike in property crime in the past couple of years, Alameda is in the midst of a 30 year decline in overall crimes. Alameda remains a very safe place to live, despite the property crimes we are experiencing. What reduction of crime can we expect from this significant expense? I would also urge you to consider that the crimes we are talking about are vehicle theft and property crimes. While certainly upsetting for the victims, these are not largely violent or public safety crimes.
The most important question on this issue is whether the reduction in crime afforded by these cameras is worth the indiscriminate gathering of data of private citizens' whereabouts at all times. There are significant questions about how this data will be used and shared. While data will only be kept by APD for 6 months, what assurances do we have that Vigilant Solutions, the contractor providing the scanners, will also purge the data in that time frame? How will other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies with whom this data will be shared through the NCRIC use the data collected? What guarantees do we have that this data will not be shared with ICE, as Alameda has requested? Vigilant Solutions has recently entered into a separate contract with ICE to provide them with vehicle location data for their other license plate readers. These questions all raise significant concerns about the indiscriminate collection and use of data on the location of law-abiding citizens. Alameda already collects significant location data through its four vehicle mounted license plate readers and this proposal is a significant expansion of that effort at a cost to the privacy of law abiding citizens and significant financial costs.
I urge you to vote 'No' on this proposal because of the significant cost and questionable benefit to crime reduction at the expense of personal privacy.
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