Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission lay out privacy principles for Oaklanders and propose ban on facial recognition tech

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Privacy issues are now becoming a matter of concern, with Silicon Valley coming under the radar every now and then, and lawmakers taking a stand for the user’s privacy, it seems a lot of countries are now making an effort in this direction. In the US, lawmakers have already started working on the lawsuits and regulations that violate consumer data privacy. Countries like California have taken steps towards issues related to privacy and surveillance.

Perhaps last week, the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission released 2 key documents, an initiative to protect Oaklanders’ privacy namely, Proposed ban on facial recognition and City of Oakland Privacy Principles.

Proposal to ban facial recognition tech

The committee has written this document which talks about the regulations on Oakland’s acquisition and use of surveillance technology. It has defined Face Recognition Technology “as an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face.”


According to this document, it will be unlawful for any city staff to retain, obtain, request, access, or use any Face Recognition Technology or any information obtained from Face Recognition Technology.

City staff’s unintentional receipt, access to, or use of any information that has been obtained from Face Recognition Technology shouldn’t violate the above. Provided that the city staff shouldn’t request or solicit its receipt, access to, or use of such information. Unless the city staff logs such access to, receipt, or use in its Annual Surveillance Report.

Oakland privacy principles laid out by the committee

The Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission has listed few principles with regards to user’s data privacy for Oaklanders. Following are the privacy principles:

Design and use equitable privacy practices

According to the first principle, community safety and access to city services shouldn’t be welcomed at the cost of any Oaklander’s right to privacy. They aim to collect information in a way that won’t discriminate against any Oaklander or Oakland community. Whenever possible, the alternatives to the collection of personal data will be communicated at the time of data collection.

Limit collection and retention of personal information

According to this principle, personal information should be collected and stored only when and for as long as is justified for serving the purpose of collecting it in the first place. Information related to Oaklanders’ safety, health, or access to city services should be protected. Oaklanders views on collection of information will be considered by the Commission.

Manage personal information with diligence

Oaklanders’ personal information should be treated with respect and handled with care, regardless of how or by whom it was collected. For maintaining the security of the systems, the software and applications that interact with Oaklanders’ personal information are regularly updated and reviewed by the Commission. The personal information gathered from different departments will be combined when there is a need. According to the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission, encryption, minimization, deletion, and anonymization can reduce misuse of personal information. The aim of the Commission is to create effective use of these tools and practices.

Extend privacy protections to our relationships with third parties

According to the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission, the responsibility to protect Oaklanders’ privacy should be extended to the vendors and partners. Oaklanders’ personal information should be shared by the Commission with third parties only to provide city services, and only when doing so is consistent with these privacy principles. The Commission will disclose the identity of parties with whom they share personal information, once the law permits to do so.

Safeguard individual privacy in public records disclosures

According to the Commission, providing relevant information to interested parties about their services and governance is essential to democratic participation as well as civic engagement. The Commission will protect Oaklanders’ individual privacy interests and the City’s information security interests and will still preserve the fundamental objective of the California Public Records Act for encouraging transparency.

Be transparent and open

The Commission states that Oaklanders’ right to privacy is open to access and understand explanations of why and how they collect, use, manage, and share personal information. And they aim to communicate these explanations to Oakland communities in plain and accessible language on the City of Oakland website.

Be accountable to Oaklanders

The Commission publicly reviews and discusses departmental requests for acquiring and using technology that can be used for surveillance purposes. The Commission further encourages Oaklanders to share their views and concerns regarding any system or department that collects and uses their personal information or has the potential to do so. And the Commission allows Oaklanders to share their views on their compliance with these Principles.

Well, it seems Oakland has clearly signalled that development at the cost of Oaklanders’ privacy won’t be unacceptable, there is still a long race to go for the cities around the world with respect to their user privacy laws.

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