Crafting Public Policy Governing the Use of Police Body Cameras

Our speaker this month will be Kathy Mitchell. Kathy is a volunteer with the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition working to require police to get a warrant to access cell phone location data. She was a policy analyst on Open Government issues for Consumers Union for several years and led public advocate negotiating of the last major rewrite of the Public Information Act. In 2006, she was the PAC Treasurer for a Prop that would have opened police misconduct records if it had passed. She has been in the trenches for more than 20 years trying to make sure the public can see government records and hold government accountable while protecting that same public from government intrusion in the form of unwarranted surveillance.

Kathy will be discussing the privacy and data retention issues surrounding the coming widespread use of Police Body Cameras both in Austin and at large. Very soon, Austin police officers will be equipped with video cameras (body cams) that will always be on during encounters with the public. But the city has yet to finalize a policy around data collection, data privacy, data retention/expunction and public access. There is a strong interest in public access, especially for video related to misconduct or incidents in which a civilian is hurt or killed. There is also a strong interest in privacy for everyone who may be the subject of body camera video. This talk will walk through some of the options that are on the table for an APD body camera policy that encourages accountability while also protecting privacy. We will also discuss the process by which such a policy could be enacted, and what will happen if we enact no policy at all.

A good resource for attendees to read beforehand:

Legislation authorizing body cams and setting the legal framework for Texas: 84(R) SB 158 – Enrolled version – Bill Text

City of Austin APD Bodycam page

COA body cam vendor RFP, now closed but downloadable: COA Financial Services

Current body cam policy to be replaced by one that addresses key issues: (Go to policy 303 at page 125.)

Other references:

Meetup Monday, January 18th, 7:00pm-9:00pm, Capital Factory


What is the Internet’s future? Originally a research and development-focused network of networks, the Internet has evolved since the early 90s as an engine for commerce and platform for digital media, which is pretty much all media post-digital convergence. As social media emerged to support networks of conversation, sharing, and community, and as the commitment of mindshare shifted from mass media to shared media, marketing interests saw that they needed online strategies to capture attention and drive purchases. The marketing model has become so pervasive, it is influencing online behavior of “civilians” – as Doug Rushkoff noted in the PBS documentary “Generation Like,” “the teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media,” and teens are learning to market effectively to each other via social platforms. In all of this, tracking of behavior is pervasive.

Jon Lebkowsky will lead a discussion of this trend, the evolution of Internet as marketplace as well as participatory panopticon.

Free, as in Beer! EFF-Austin’s 2015 Holiday Party at The Cedar Door, Thursday, December 17th, 7:00pm-9:00pm

EFF-Austin is throwing a big, old Holiday party on Thursday, December 17th, from 7:00pm-9:00pm in the backroom of The Cedar Door at 201 Brazos Street,  and we’d love for you to join us! We will have a full open bar for our guests to make use of, as well as free appetizers  courtesy of The Cedar Door.

EFF-Austin (Electronic Frontier Foundation of Austin) is a local advocacy, educational,  and community-organizational group that promotes bringing together those interested in learning about the myriad ways in which our ever evolving digital culture affects our communities and our societies. We host monthly meetups featuring speakers on a variety of topics – recent discussions have included social media surveillance, peer-to-peer encrypted social networks, the role of the ACLU in defending digital civil liberties, journalism in the digital age, and digital archiving. In addition to this learning, EFF-Austin hopes to provide a resource whereby those interested in creating change in our digital world can meet like-minded minds and have a community to collaborate with and support them in their endeavors.

In addition to the party serving as a chance to get to know our fellow digital citizens in a more relaxed setting,  the party is a great opportunity to learn about what’s planned for EFF-Austin in the coming year. EFF-Austin has recently welcomed several new board members from diverse backgrounds, and with the increased resources and manpower this provides our volunteers, we are planning to implement a number of initiatives that we hope will allow EFF-Austin to perform its role of empowering the community more effectively. To that end, we highly encourage you, our fellow digital citizens, to let us know what you would like to see from EFF-Austin in the coming months.

No RSVP required, but we only have room for 100 attendees at a time, so if you want to make sure you get in RSVP here to get on the list:…

Sponsored by

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

111 Congress, Suite 400 | Austin, TX 78701


Monday Meetup: APD Tracks Social Media

EFF-Austin-logo-300x188Date: Monday, November 16, 2015
Time: 7PM
Location: Capital Factory

Our speaker this month will be radio personality Jimmy Preston, host of 100 Proof Radio on KTSW 89.9FM and producer at Double Punch Kick Productions.

Jimmy is originally from Northern Virginia, and was a willing participant in the Tech Boom and crash at the turn of the century, and after leaving the tech sector went on to contribute to the Real Estate boom and bust in 2008. After moving to Austin 5 years ago, he began purposing a career in media production, and will complete his degree at Texas State University in May 2016. His interest in social justice issues, and media law and ethics have led him to follow many groups in the Austin area as they work to bring about change for the better. Jimmy is currently working with the Second Chance Democrats to bring Fair Chance Hiring to Austin, and the initiative just passed committee and will go to the full council in February 2016.

Jimmy will be speaking to us about Austin Police Department partnering with local company Snap Trends to monitor social media aggregate data. Snap Trends says they created this software “to serve public safety organization [sic] and national intelligence agencies in the United States.” They state that their technology “builds a clear view of social conversations when and where they occur, the influencers driving them, and why.”


Surveillance states

Arundhati Roy quites Edward Snowden from a meeting in Moscow:

Ed spoke at some length about “sleepwalking into a total surveillance state”. And here I quote him, because he’s said this often before: “If we do nothing, we sort of sleepwalk into a total surveillance state where we have both a super-state that has unlimited capacity to apply force with an unlimited ability to know (about the people it is targeting)—and that’s a very dangerous combination. That’s the dark future. The fact that they know everything about us and we know nothing about them—because they are secret, they are privileged, and they are a separate class…the elite class, the political class, the reso­urce class—we don’t know where they live, we don’t know what they do, we don’t know who their friends are. They have the ability to know all that about us. This is the direction of the future, but I think there are changing possibilities in this….”

Read the entire article here.