Oakland PD plays Junior G-Man with its own NSA-style data-center

The Oakland Police Department, notorious for its violent, out-of-control response to Occupy and its racist violence against the people of Oakland, is building a giant, NSA-style spy-center, using $7M originally gifted to OPD by the Feds to fight terror and other abstract nouns. They'll use it to monitor the Internet looking for criminals, and cross-reference that with CCTV footage, license-plate cameras, and other warrantless, infinitely retained surveillance data.

Libby Schaaf, an Oakland City Council member, said that because of the city’s high crime rate, “it’s our responsibility to take advantage of new tools that become available.” She added, though, that the center would be able to “paint a pretty detailed picture of someone’s personal life, someone who may be innocent.”

For example, if two men were caught on camera at the port stealing goods and driving off in a black Honda sedan, Oakland authorities could look up where in the city the car had been in the last several weeks. That could include stoplights it drove past each morning and whether it regularly went to see Oakland A’s baseball games.

For law enforcement, data mining is a big step toward more complete intelligence gathering. The police have traditionally made arrests based on small bits of data — witness testimony, logs of license plate readers, footage from a surveillance camera perched above a bank machine. The new capacity to collect and sift through all that information gives the authorities a much broader view of the people they are investigating.

Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance [Somini Sengupta/NYT]

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(Image: 2012/01/07 FTP March, Oakland, CA, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from danielarauz's photostream)