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Crime / Municipal government / Technology

Bill would require police to give notice when using surveillance tech

The proposal in Annapolis comes on the heels of last summer's aerial surveillance revelations.

Are foreign powers using stingrays? (Photo via Harris Corp.)

Baltimore’s use of police surveillance equipment led to a state bill that would require departments to at least acknowledge they’re using the technology.
The bill, proposed by Del. Frank Conaway (D-Baltimore), would require police to give 30 days’ notice in writing that they are using surveillance equipment. Law enforcement agencies would also have to submit an annual report detailing how they used the equipment in a given year. The brief bill doesn’t point out what kinds of technologies fall into the surveillance category.
It’s the second year in a row a proposal on surveillance tech is being talked up in Annapolis. Last year, a measure that didn’t pass looked to regulate the cellphone-tracking stingray device.
Conaway’s proposal this session follows August’s revelation that an aerial surveillance company was working with Baltimore police to zoom in on the city from a plane. City officials, including the mayor, said they didn’t know about the program. Police said they were in testing mode.
It’s one of a number of tools that put Baltimore on the map for police surveillance.
A hearing on this year’s bill was held Tuesday in Annapolis. According to the Capital News Service, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger testified against the bill, saying it could compromise active investigations.
Conaway said the bill is in the public’s interest.
“They need to have some kind of transparency or accountability beyond themselves,” Conaway told CNS.

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