ASD Police Surveillance Project

Updated: October 21, 2021

New! ASDPSP launches it’s Bad Apple project!

Project Founders:

Lisa Rein – Co-Founder, Aaron Swartz Day
Tracy Rosenberg – Co-Founder, Oakland Privacy
Daniel Rigmaiden – Cell Phone Surveillance Expert – @ddrigmaiden
Dave Maass, @maassive – Investigative Researcher, @EFF

Why This Project Was Started
Aaron Swartz filed a lot of FOIA requests, and it made us want to start a project at the hackathon that would continue the tradition.

Recent: A page of all the documents we’ve received to date – organized by geographical location and agency (police or sheriff) – across California – with easy to read equipment tables and zip files of all documents.

The Police Surveillance Project at Aaron Swartz Day – #ASDPSP – is all about developing a larger strategy for determining what types of surveillance equipment a city’s police and sheriff departments have already purchased and whether or not a surveillance policy is in place to monitor that equipment – regulating how that equipment is used.

List of Surveillance Equipment Templates are concerned with
Police Surveillance Muckrock Templates
Interviews with Tracy Rosenberg
About the Project
Project Goals
Project Team
Why this project was started

About the project:

Right now, in order to confirm the existence of surveillance equipment by law enforcement, the public has to file information requests that ask explicitly for each piece of equipment that might exist.

In most cities, law enforcement is not even required to have a policy regarding the usage of surveillance equipment or the public disclosure of that usage, and citizens have to play a guessing game with public information requests, in order to obtain such information.

Police Departments will never be required to have a policy on the purchase and use of surveillance equipment unless there is public outcry for them to do so. So, let’s get organized and systematic about generating as much pubic outcry as we can. :-)

Project Goals:

  1. To provide a template for making requests for public records, and to use these templates with the Muckrock website to  automate the process for filing multiple public records requests.
  2.  To determine the existence of every known variation of surveillance equipment or memorandum of understanding in use for a given city and county.
  3. To provide a template for demanding that your city government implement a policy regarding how surveillance equipment is planning to be used, and for establishing yearly reports explaining the year’s past use of surveillance equipment.

Surveillance Transparency Ordinances Become Law

The first surveillance transparency ordinance in the country became law in Santa Clara County in June of 2016.

Efforts are in the final stages in both Oakland and Berkeley, and both should have laws by the end of the year. So, let’s use their laws as examples for the rest of the country. Oakland’s ordinance will be heard in committee on November 14 and should go to the Council by the end of November, Berkeley’s ordinance will be in front of the City Council in December and others are in process with BART, Alameda County, Richmond, Palo Alto and Davis.

Interviews with Tracy Rosenberg in Mondo 2000 with more information about this project:

1. Interview with Oakland Privacy’s Tracy Rosenberg On The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

2. How a little “working group” stopped Oakland from becoming a mini-fusion center for the Department of Homeland Security.

3. The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project #ASDPSP – Reports Back: Here’s #WhatWeFound In Sacramento


ACLU: Making Smart Decisions About Surveillance

FAQ about surveillance transparency ordinances,

Timeline of Bay Area anti-surveillance activism – Campaigns – ​

Berkeley Surveillance Ordinance Fact Sheet
A one page fact sheet (prepared for Berkeley’s police review commission in July, but also generally useful).

BBC: ​Police surveillance: The US city that beat Big Brother

Washington Law Review: Surveillance Policy Making By Procurement​

November 11 2023 – 11 am -6:30 pm PST