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San Francisco votes to give cops access to private CCTV cameras

New powers.
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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a rule allowing the police to use private cameras for real-time surveillance during “significant events with public safety concerns.” The rule also allows the police to use private cameras and camera networks for investigations related to active felonies and misdemeanors.

The rule, which was passed in a 7-4 vote, will be reviewed after 15 months. During that period, the SFPD will be required to provide quarterly reports.

We obtained a copy of the motion for you here.

The current law only allows the police to request historical non-live footage of private cameras at specific times and locations. The new rule, which still needs another vote to take effect, allows the police to ask for “temporary live monitoring.” They can request access to 24 hours of live camera footage if they are responding to a life or death situation, or situations with potential for serious physical injury, conducting criminal investigations, and during “significant events with public safety concerns.”

To use private cameras, the police have to get the consent of the owner. However, they do not require a warrant.

The rule contains a specific exception. The police cannot request surveillance footage, “for purposes of enforcing prohibitions on reproductive care or interstate travel for reproductive care.”

It states: “Except as required by law, SFPD shall not share surveillance footage with any law enforcement agency for purposes of enforcing prohibitions on reproductive care or interstate travel for reproductive care. Unless legally required, SFPD will not share footage with non-California law enforcement agencies.”

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