New cameras that have begun popping up all over downtown San Francisco have begun to raise concerns among privacy advocates. That the cameras are focused on areas that will shortly be closed to traffic for Super Bowl celebrations led some to speculate that the intention of the cameras is surveillance, and not the more prosaic traffic monitoring as claimed by SFMTA officials.
SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose tried to allay those concerns, telling SF Weekly that the cameras pipe video to a Muni control center, and that they are intended to help manage traffic flow.
@OaklandPrivacy The cameras are part of an expansion of our SFGo program to better monitor & manage traffic (not just autos)... (1)— SFMTA (@sfmta_muni) January 10, 2016
However, the Weekly confirmed that the cameras do have the ability to pan and zoom — thus suggesting that in the coming weeks with Super Bowl street closures the cameras will have plenty non-traffic related material to zoom in on.
"The risk here," the ACLU's Matt Cagle explained to the paper, "as with so many other surveillance technologies, is that the cameras will remain up after the Super Bowl is long over, and will be used for purposes beyond just traffic control."
If the cameras won't be busy tracking the movement of suspected protestors, and there will be no traffic to monitor during the Super Bowl street closures, maybe they can pan and zoom in on that Sue Bierman Park Alicia Keys concert for us?