Plans to install 480 new cameras in Oakland along California freeways raise mass surveillance concerns
04/10/2024 // Richard Brown // Views

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has unveiled plans to install 480 new cameras in Oakland and along freeways, raising concerns over mass surveillance.

Characterizing these cameras as "cutting-edge," Newsom conveyed in a video shared on X, formerly Twitter, that they would "aid law enforcement in identifying vehicles associated with crimes through real-time data and alerts." (Related: California thieves NOT BOTHERED at all by surveillance cameras.)

The cameras in question are provided by Flock Safety, a company that critics argue is involved in creating artificial intelligence-powered mass surveillance networks, closely monitoring both movement patterns and individuals' behavior within its scope.

Flock specializes in automatic number plate recognition technology, primarily marketed to law enforcement agencies, which can be deployed even in areas lacking electricity by utilizing solar panels.

The real-time functionality is achieved through Flock's access to pre-marked databases of vehicles, while the cameras' connectivity to phone towers enables instant location alerts for police and federal agencies.

Aside from sparking debates on mass surveillance and the potential for governments to veer toward authoritarianism, there are doubts regarding the efficacy of systems like those endorsed by Newsom.

Meanwhile, to assuage privacy and safety concerns among law-abiding citizens, Flock emphasized that its camera technology does not employ facial recognition and is activated solely for "simple traffic violations."

Nonetheless, critics argue that such assurances may become irrelevant once the infrastructure is established, as law enforcement possesses facial recognition capabilities that could leverage data collected by the cameras.

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Mass surveillance a violation of privacy rights

These same critics argue that this technology infringes on privacy rights and may exacerbate police abuse, particularly in already marginalized communities. They contend that addressing the root causes of crime, such as poverty, housing instability and low wages, should take precedence over investing in surveillance.

Newsom defended the surveillance network, asserting that it equips law enforcement with the necessary tools to effectively combat criminal activity and hold wrongdoers accountable, thus fostering safer and stronger communities for all Californians.

This initiative comes amid a substantial rise in highway shootings in recent years, coinciding with a national surge in homicides driven primarily by gun violence. While there has been a decrease in highway shootings since 2021, public safety remains a significant concern, especially regarding retail theft, prompting even liberal leaders to endorse heightened policing measures.

In Oakland, where crime rates have surged, major employers have pledged $10 million to enhance public safety and protect employees. However, critics like Cat Brooks, executive director of the Anti Police-Terror Project, argue that investing in surveillance technology diverts resources away from critical community needs, perpetuating systemic issues.

Although neither the governor's office nor California Highway Patrol have disclosed the contract's cost, nearly 300 cameras are slated for deployment in Oakland and nearby state highways.

To address privacy concerns, the state government pledged to retain footage only for 28 days and restricted third-party access to the footage beyond California law enforcement. This initiative aligns with recent voter-approved measures granting police access to drones and surveillance cameras.

Watch this clip from "The Ingraham Angle" on Fox News as historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson warns about how California targets innocent people.

This video is from the GalacticStorm channel on

More related stories:

Californians laud Newsom’s hefty $267M initiative aimed at curbing "smash and grab" crimes – that they actually brought upon themselves a decade ago.

AI surveillance tech can find out who your friends are.

Government developing AI-powered surveillance program that can keep an eye on people in smart cities.

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