San Jose police may soon be able to tap into the feeds of private home and business security cameras in order to catch criminals. Under a new proposal by city councilman Sam Liccardo, property owners could voluntarily register their cameras with the police, who could then remotely access the security feeds with the owners’ permission. The city of Philadelphia, which uses a similar system, has reported a spike in arrests. But critics say these programs open the door to excessive surveillance and invasion of citizens’ privacy. Would you voluntarily give the police access to your home security camera?

Sam Liccardo, San Jose city councilmember representing District 3
Lee Tien, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Katherine Mann, traffic coordinator running the OnWatch security camera program for the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department, which has used the voluntary camera system since October

  • Jon Gold

    Isn’t this more of the same measures that have been taking place anyway!? It’s fine with me, I have nothing to hide and would make for a boring video feed watch…

    • Menelvagor


  • Tex Logic

    Please listen to the information you’re given instead of regurgitating misinformation about what the proposal actually is. He clearly stated they will NOT be able to “tap into the feeds of private homes or business cameras” which is what your headline and text reads. The guest host should learn to listen to what’s being actually said.

    • Robert Thomas

      SJMN has reported (1/23) that along with a map of sensors’ locations and purview, that the Liccardo proposal would, with the sensors’ owners’ permission, allow police to be “able to remotely tap into feeds for high-tech cameras”. Councilman Liccardo seemed to deny this during the segment.

    • Menelvagor

      but what is to stop them. also police use coercion all the time. its easy. yo dont comply–we will harass and bully you and yours. i was bullied on my own property by an cocky dumb cop for granting a homeless man a cup of coffee,

    • Menelvagor

      there is no logic in texas

  • Robert Thomas

    This is a foolish position evinced here by the EFF.

    Law enforcement already can and does request recordings from in-place sensors. If you have trouble with your neighbors’ data collection, you have an issue with your neighbor. If law enforcement wants to offer subsidies to individuals or small business to employ sensors to be operated under those individuals’ or business’ control and neighbors or customers have difficulty with that, then they have other recourse.

    The EFF oversteps its bounds here. It should stick to issues of *uninvited* incursions of the state into peoples’ social and commercial intercourse.

    “Drones…” Good grief.

  • Nu Ricks

    What is the mechanism of delivery of the video files to the police? Will the police have access to the stored video via the internet? Or do they have to go to each individual home and transfer files / video in person?

    • KittyKat

      Nu – I was scheduled to discuss our program at LGMSPD but was unable to…anyhow, I can tell you our plan: It depends on the individual system – some will require the police to go to the residence with a USB/CD and copy the video for the incident/time in question – other systems allow the residents to email us copies of the video. When residents register through our system it asks how video can be obtained – so if an officer is on scene and needs a copy right away (kidnapping for example) they know what they will need.

  • Teri Marzano

    While at a BIBLE study last night at our church in Newark, two vehicles had windows broken out. One had a knitting bag taken, and the other a bag of empty bags for grocery shopping. While the police were prompt in responding, wouldn’t it have been good to have a video feed to review to see where the thieves
    came from and have the police recognize the probably-known vandals that did this? You bet we are thinking about installing cameras and would love having the police gain access to it!

    • Menelvagor

      you think people should be monitored because you lost a few plastic bags? nuts. you are wasting police time.

  • Erik

    I gave video to the police in the arson case here in San Jose and it turned out to be very helpful in catching that person. I have no problem with signing up for the registry. In the case of the arson investigation the police and fire department had noticed my cameras while they were putting out fire of my neighbor’s house and asked me to view the video but that is not always the case. Last year there was a guy walking around the neighborhood with a gun shooting at cars and houses. He was caught about 10 yards from my house but I had to go out and point out to the police that I had cameras and video of the guy carrying the gun. That is not the first time I have had to point out to police that I have video that might help them. I would prefer that they just ask me for the video if it can be helpful instead of having to approach them.
    Video cameras pointed outside capture only what you can see from looking out your window. I have had to review that video several times before for things like who tagged the stop sign outside my house or who threw a stolen bicycle in my front yard. I can tell you that it is the most excruciatingly mundane boring stuff to watch. I only ever look at the video if I really, really need to. It is just that mind numbingly boring.

  • $2870056

    When I am out “on the street” I understand other people, including the police, will see me, even watch me. That kind of activity does not give me any expectation of privacy or its loss.

    When someone tracks my “on the street” movements – where I go, who I am with or stop to see, or when and where I enter a location – done by both police and private organizations like Google – that is an invasion of privacy. The police can have probable cause to do this. Fine. I do NOT have an expectation of privacy, or its loss, because of why the police might track me.

    When a private company like Google does that, it most certainly is a violation of my privacy. In many societies and cultures it is more than rude to take photos or videos of strangers in public, or track them with or without consent. Google and other private firms make it near impossible to know they are “tracking” my movements, associations, even purchases or other business interactions. They are a much bigger threat to my privacy than any police or police surveillance.

    A private citizen giving police a private photo or video from a private monitoring camera? No different than police getting it themselves. I expect people to be monitoring/protecting home, property or life this way in today’s world. I do it too and do not think I am violating anyone’s privacy when they come to my front door, or onto my property with a proper intent. 99.99% of that monitoring is never reviewed or kept by me. Or “used” by anyone for any purpose.

    • Chemist150

      How about a neighbor pointing cameras toward your property and having a live feed?

  • Dave Cohen

    The San Jose police force is woefully underfunded and crime is on the rise. This bill is a straightforward use of technology to help police save time and money during investigations. It’s like saying the police shouldn’t be able to use search engines because it makes finding information too easy.

    Judy wasn’t properly prepared for the show today and kept referring to it as “tapping into video feeds.” She let the attorney from EFF get away with some outlandish claims… And shame on you for putting the Nazi Germany caller on the air. I listen to KQED for informed, critical debates. If I wanted to hear to crazy fear mongers comparing America to Nazi Germany, I’d turn on Fox News.

  • payattention

    Like many pieces of legislation, this has great potential for both good and harm. We have become obsessed with safety, and the legislation of safety (and morality) in this country. Here are some “think about where we have been, and where we are going” points:

    1) We all complain that privacy is gone, it isn’t but we must “Just say no”. We must look down the road and ask “when this path gets warped and abused, will there be protections once it becomes common place?” Do you want your children growing in a world where any nosy neighbor can “officially” track them without any knowledge or recompense? They’re working with the police, no one will question them or their motives. Things like this should be civilian organized, and NEVER, EVER legislated.

    2) We tried this type of system about 100 years ago, and left unchecked that LAW ENFORCEMENT started killing enemies of the state, only then they were called Jews, not terrorists (“evil doers”) or criminals. That was one of the most horrible happenings of modern times, yet many of those citizens were brainwashed into thinking they were doing the right thing. Many reported on by their own neighbors because they were given “incentives”. How much more possible would this be, now you not only have testimony of something, you have video (which by the way can be altered and manipulated…imagine ‘Running Man’ only with HD or better.)

    No one thinks that is the short term goal of this, but are we really wanting to take baby steps down that path again? Or even make it an open door?

    2) Some very good examples from our own country that were initially meant for safety reasons such as gun control, seat belts, loosening wiretapping requirements, etc. All great concepts, until blurred lines of lack of personal accountability take over (bureaucracy). While this camera proposal (and others like it), didn’t intend to be abused but they ultimately are. We don’t go back and say NSA you were told several decades ago “NEVER AGAIN”. Has never really become less than 30 years?

    At first, gun registration was voluntary. A good measure for citizens trying to protect their environment. Now, mandatory, like many other “good citizen” measures.

    What in this bill protects the citizens, and tax payers of this country (or even that city) that with WILL NEVER BECOME MANDATORY!? Nor will law-enforcement ever be able to demand access to private footage

    This would merely provide a launching point for the next politician to propose legislation to end world hunger if we’d just all sacrifice a little privacy (see point #1)

    3) Number of hours saved for police: That is why we have the necessary evil of “police” to pay them to investigate and enforce. I think we’ve lost that focus. .

    4) We all need to think a little more generationally here. Do you really want our kids not knowing what the freedom of walking down the street without fear of being “logged” ? Public servants (government) are just that…servants. The government works for us, and when you change that balance, we play dangerous games (NSA story recently anyone?).

    5) Really, REALLY hear me out here: Liberty is the foundation and corner stone of this country. If you DON’T LIKE FREE COUNTRIES, there are plenty to choose from. In fact, the U.K. has camera’s everywhere, give them a try. If that’s still too free, try China or Korea.

  • Menelvagor

    america is bent

  • Menelvagor

    who is worried about this? the rich. and they better be. they are criminals.

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