How We Can Stop the Corporate Surveillance State of Vladimir Gloria

by on March 23, 2023 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

By Matthew S. Melin & Brittany M.Pope


The most profitable mother-load of the $68 Billion mass data collection industry is dragnet surveillance, tracking everyone’s movement 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in perpetuity.

We believe the City has violated the Brown Act and failed to adequately notify the public on the San Diego Police Department “Smart Streetlight Surveillance” presentations between March 3-10th.

To be clear, San Diegans have NOT acquiesced our First and Fourth Amendment rights to the Mayor, City Attorney, City Council, the Council President, SDPD, San Diego County Sheriffs, SANDAG and local governments.

This unconstitutional dragnet surveillance proposal is just that, A PROPOSAL. Educating San Diegans about the reality of unleashing this Orwellian surveillance proposal and the pandora’s box that it opens, is in a word, paramount.

San Diegans must collaborate with activist organizations and attorneys to put a stop to this unconstitutional domestic spying program of unlawfully tracking the movement of every citizen.

The Mayor is expediting this Surveillance Proposal circumventing any meaningful scrutiny and public input. This chilling attempt is bypassing nearly every democratic process guaranteed by the California Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

Privacy vs Safety:

  • Privacy is not the enemy of safety. Privacy is safety’s guarantor.
  • The fallacy of secrecy; Only people with something to hide are opposed to dragnet surveillance.
  • Do you have a pin number for your ATM, a lock for your front door, use passwords to access accounts online, close your curtains or use blinds on your windows? Then you are exerting your right to control your own privacy.
  • Privacy is the control an individual has to maintain agency over the dissemination of their own personal data and information. Such fundamental rights are the cornerstone of our Constitution, in our free country, and should NEVER be compromised!

Brief History

  • Smart Streetlights (SS) containing video cameras and espionage grade surveillance microphones were installed quite a few years ago with little to no public notification, and seemingly void of any measurable public oversight.
  • Under then, Mayor Faulconer, the City financed a covert unconstitutional domestic dragnet spying mandate with funds earmarked for the most vulnerable San Diegans. Funding for the purchase of Smart Streetlights and their installation was diverted (or misallocated) from Community Block Grants.
  • With no regard for the rights of San Diegans, then SDPD Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman, unilaterally entered into an agreement with the proprietary Smart Streetlight manufacturers and proprietary SS software company(s) and signed a non disclosure agreement (NDA) on behalf of every taxpaying citizen without any public notification, nor public inquiry.
  • When the public found out about the Smart Streetlights (SS); the SS program was supposedly scrapped. Yet the smart streetlights remained in place albeit supposedly “shut off.” (a fact that can never be confirmed)

Easy Campaign Cash:

  • Shortly after taking office, Mayor Gloria immediately exhumed and resuscitated the SS domestic spying program.
  • To make things worse, the Mayor and his Big Data lobbyists have included the addition of Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR’s) modules.
  • San Diego has NOT outlawed the use of heavily flawed Facial Recognition Technology
  • Deeply flawed and inaccurate proprietary Facial Recognition System modules can be added to the network of over 2000 existing “Smart” Streetlights already installed throughout the City.

Subterfuge and Obfuscation:

  • The Mayor’s Office, the City Attorney, SDPD imply the proposal is for 500 “cameras” and downplay the dragnet mass surveillance, that is the reality of implementing the ALPR’s.
  • The SDPD Surveillance State presentation, lobbying the public, incessantly deferred to the “camera” aspect of the SS Program and downplayed proposed dragnet use of the 3rd party corporation’s ALPR’s.
  • Todd Gloria’s Office and the City have contracted with Zencity to conduct an “impartial” third party survey at the expense of San Diego taxpayers.
  • The Zencity “Public Safety Survey” has never been open to the public.
  • The Zencity “Public Safety Survey” is not accessible to the public through the web portal.
  • The link to the Zencity “Public Safety Survey” is only available through targeted marketing from advertisements in unnamed publications and social media advertisements.
  • The Mayor refuses to answer questions, or engage with the public regarding the Surveillance Proposal. The Mayor’s Staff flat out refuses to return phone calls or emails regarding this Surveillance Proposal.

Hacking and Massive Data Security Breaches Are Commonplace Per the SDPD conducting the Surveillance presentations:

  • Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR’s) = bulk mass data collection on every vehicle passing within 100-150 feet of an ALPR.
  • ALPR’s, Video Surveillance Cameras, and Espionage Grade Microphone Hardwares are proprietary, black box systems, not open source. Most, if not all, of the Smart Streetlight hardware is made in China.
  • ALPR’s, Video Surveillance Cameras, and Espionage Grade Microphone Softwares are proprietary, 3rd party black box systems, not open source coding.
  • ALPR’s, Video Surveillance Cameras “Masking” (blurring video) and “Encryption” Softwares are proprietary, 3rd party black box software systems, not open source coding.

Data and Privacy Experts On Proprietary 3rd party Hardware and Software:

  • The absence of Open Source coding in the ALPR’s, Surveillance Cameras, & Espionage Grade Microphone Hardwares makes DISCERNING the attribution of hacking SS Hardware nearly impossible.
  • No Open Source coding in the in ALPR’s, Cameras and microphone Softwares, makes DISCERNING the attribution of hacking nearly impossible.
  • No Open Source coding in the “Encryption” and “Masking” Softwares, makes DISCERNING the attribution of hacking nearly impossible.

The Scariest Facts Not Being Shared With The Public:

  • The absence of Open Source Coding makes the DETECTION of any hacking, internal or external, even by a nation state that would do us harm, will remain nearly impossible.
  • These Orwellian Surveillance Cameras, Espionage Grade Microphones, Automated License Plate Readers, and the potential deployment of severely inaccurate and flawed Facial Recognition Hardware and Software modules, are vulnerable to hacking.
  • AI enables billions of bits of information to be collected, filtered and sorted within minutes on every law abiding citizen.
  • The Information gained from tracking everyone’s movement, is the most profitable of all datasets; thus establishing plenty of motive for any bad actor, internal or external.
  • SDPD, the anemic Privacy Advisory Commission, and an unsuspecting public would potentially remain unaware of any hacking, for years.

A Sample of Potential Hacking Chokepoints Lying in Wait:

  • The above mentioned Smart Streetlight hardware require firmware updates.
  • Proprietary Systems require software updates.
  • Proprietary Hardware systems require routine maintenance.
  • Proprietary Softwares require routine maintenance.
  • Will maintenance of these systems be contracted out to yet more 3rd Party companies?
  • The potential for these systems to become compromised by hackers far outweighs their potential upside or usefulness.

False Assumptions About the Proposed Surveillance Technologies

  • The erroneous SS proposal assumes that one accountable corporation will provide all of the hardware and software to operate these Smart Streetlights, happily ever after.
  • The reality is that corporate acquisitions are commonplace in the $68 Billion Data Harvesting Industry.
  • The erroneous proposal also assumes that the County’s 9 municipalities will use the same corporate vendors to supply the same hardwares and softwares.
  • In our own County, industry lobbyists will compete for individual contracts, potentially leading to dozens of different Hardware/Software combinations, involving several different Data Mining Corporations and maintenance contracts.
  • To date there exists no empirical data to confirm any community has been made more safe by deploying Surveillance State Dragnets.

The Misrepresentation and the Illusion of Meaningful Oversight:

  • The Privacy Advisory Commission has no legal authority.
  • The Privacy Advisory Commission has no subpoena power.
  • The Privacy Advisory Commission has no budget for investigation.
  • The Privacy Advisory Commission will be powerless to obtain necessary and targeted warrants that will be required for investigative access to 3rd Party proprietary coding.
  • Even if such warrants can be obtained, the Privacy Advisory Commission, with no legal authority, will be subjected to indefinite court delays with no established legal precedence in existence.
  • With no significant regulations, nor local, nor state laws, and henceforth no enforcement mechanisms, the Privacy Advisory Commission’s jurisdictional oversight will amount to nothing more than making mere suggestions, at best.

The Non Elected Board at SANDAG Will Have Final Say:

  • San Diego is unique in that we are the only county in the state that has a non elected board at SANDAG that all of the city governments in the County have lavished unilateral authority to. This has been done in an effort to circumvent and all but eliminate any meaningful participation and public discourse within our own elected local government bodies.
  • We have seen time and time again the absolute corrupting power of SANDAG, corrupting absolutely.
  • SANDAG oversees our current “Automated Justice Information System” by which San Diego County Law Enforcement shares information in real-time.
  • SANDAG has proven, repeatedly, to be an easily corruptible supervisory body in San Diego County and one that many communities in the City of San Diego have often likened to “the equivalent of a poitico-corporate “Gastapo.”
  • SANDAG, will therefore have final say in all matters pertaining to the Mass Surveillance Program under our current system.

What San Diegans, throughout the County can do:

  • Educate yourself and those around you. Start with these concise, insightful and informative TED Talks
  • The Shift We Need to Stop Mass Surveillance | Albert Fox Cahn
  • Inside the massive (and unregulated) world of surveillance tech | Sharon Weinberger
  • What you need to know about surveillance | Kade Crockford
  • Catherine Crump: The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you
  • Get Involved. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives fighting against authoritarian regimes to protect U.S. from this kind of controlling oppression.
  • It is insufferable for a City Mayor and local governments to attempt to eliminate our privacy, falsely none-the-less, in the name of “safety.”
  • Collaborate and join with San Diego’s Moral Governance
  • Join with the Privacy Activists at the TrustSD Coalition,
  • Join with the Electronic Frontier Foundation •
  • Join with the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP)
  • Join with the Brennan Center for Justice,
  • Educate your children, family and neighbors
  • Participate meaningful dialog and discourse in your own community
  • Write and submit Op-Ed pieces
  • Advocate to END the Failed “Strong Mayor” form of Government experiment once and for all.
  • Advocate to replace the “City Manager” form of City Government
  • Support all candidates countywide that commit to DISSOLVING SANDAG
  • Call and Email the San Diego Mayor’s Office:
    Mayor – Todd Gloria 619-236-6330
    • Call and Email the City Attorney and tell her this is unconstitutional
    City Attorney – Mara Eliot Fax: 619-236-7215
    • Call and Email your San Diego City Councilmember:
    • Dist 1 – Joe LaCava 619-236-6611
    • Dist 2 – Jen Campbell 619-236-6622
    • Dist 3 – Steven Whitburn 619-236-6633
    Dist 4 – Monica Montgomery-Steppe 619-236-6644
    • Dist 5 – Marni von Wilpert 619-236-6655
    • Dist 6 – Kent Lee 619-236-6616
    • Dist 7 – Raul Campillo 619-236-6677
    • Dist 8 – Vivian Moreno 619-236-6688
    • Dist 9 – Sean Elo-Rivera (Council President) 619-236-6699

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “They who can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

We still have our First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights, and we must exert them NOW MORE THAN EVER! San Diegans can and will put and end to this through unity.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page March 23, 2023 at 12:27 pm

Excellent, comprehensive piece. If you don’t want to read it all but are opposed to this system, jump to the end of the article to “What San Diegans, throughout the County can do:” I great list of information, suggestions, and contacts.


Mat Wahlstrom March 23, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Comprehensive and much needed info here. Only thing I would add is that facial recognition technology and AI has been shown to be fatally flawed by inherent bias to the point of incoherence, that will necessarily lead to false accusations and violations of due process.

For a lay explanation, here’s And for more technical information, there’s


Progressive guru March 26, 2023 at 9:58 pm

Pretty soon, they will be watching and listening to us in our homes and bedrooms. Oh snap, they already are. Consider not purchasing an Alexa or Siri and placing two layers of electrical tape over computer web cameras when not in use. Hackers can watch you in your home when your computer is on and you would never know it.

Another idea is for Android mobile phone users to disable Google’s assistant service, because even when it not in use, Google assistant is always listening for its wake phrase to turn on, although supposedly not recording and storing sound when idle. However, when active, Google corporate keeps recordings of everything you state into the phone. Everything.

For what it’s worth, Google also keeps all searches typed into its search engine forever. Literally, forever. Orwellian indeed.—unlocking-the-future-transparency-of-your-past/


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