Surveillance Tech Work
TWCSD’s effort in tackling issues in surveillance is multifaceted.
Engaging with our community through education of the surveillance tools being used and the harm that these tools can cause is fundamental to challenging the unjust use of surveillance technology. Attending city hall meetings, hosting community panels and workshops, and organizing with local grassroots groups are several of the ways we build anti-surveillance power.
San Diego made national headlines in 2019 after implementing more than 4,000 “smart streetlights” – cameras and microphones installed on or inside streetlights throughout San Diego, and disproportionately used in Black, brown and low-income neighborhoods. San Diegans were neither consulted during the acquisition of this system, nor made aware of it following installation. SDPD continues to operate the camera system with little oversight or external guidelines. TWCSD has been engaging in public education and advocacy campaigns to push back against this serious police overreach.
Privacy Board and Surveillance Ordinance
After years of organizing and agitating to apply public pressure to San Diego’s City Council, we saw a big win in 2022 with the approval of an oversight committee, along with the passing of a surveillance ordinance. The goal of this oversight committee and the ordinance is to review and report on technology that can be used to criminalize already over-policed individuals and groups.
TWCSD’s ShotSpotter campaign is an ongoing project focused on accountability and oversight of how ShotSpotter may be used – and abused – in San Diego and beyond. We organize with the national #STOPSHOTSPOTTER campaign, working against the company’s harmful effects on the Black, brown and poor people they surveill throughout the US.
Solidarity Tech Work
Tech Workers Coalition does solidarity tech work with other organizers struggling to improve working conditions and end harmful tech. Some of us support Turkopticon, a worker advocacy organization of Amazon Mechanical Turk workers — data processing gig workers who power artificial intelligence and are pushing for better platform policies for workers. The work involves keeping Turkopticon’s servers running well and supporting Turk workers in making changes to the interfaces when they need it. We’ve also fundraised for the project.
We supported United Taxi Workers San Diego by analyzing data that helped them show that the taxis in San Diego are 97% hybrid, far less gas guzzling than Uber and Lyft’s fleet. United Taxi Workers San Diego is a taxi union led by immigrant drivers who broke the exploitative medallion system in San Diego through their organizing. Today, they are building a digital-ridehail taxi cooperative to serve the people of San Diego. Read about their vision for taxis as microtransit to strengthen public transportation.
We have hosted trainers from Employee Rights Center to help us understand our rights in the workplace, as employees and as contractors across the tech industry.