DAYTON, OH – Yesterday, the Dayton City Manager withdrew a controversial airborne surveillance program from consideration before the Dayton City Commission. The announcement came less than two weeks after a Dayton community group voiced their concerns about the program’s cost and impact on privacy.
“We appreciate the city’s recognition of the potential for privacy violations under this program, and their decision to remove it from consideration,” said ACLU of Ohio Policy Coordinator Melissa Bilancini. “Aerial surveillance can be a useful tool for law enforcement. However, no program should be implemented if privacy and civil liberties implications are ignored.”
“We appreciate being part of this important conversation,” said Dayton resident Joel Pruce, a member of the community group that opposed the plan. “As new technologies emerge, we believe we can move forward to position Dayton as both a hub for economic activity and a leader in civil rights and community engagement.”
Under the proposed policy, Dayton would have contracted with Xenia-based Persistent Surveillance Systems for 120 hours of surveillance at a rate of $1,000 per hour. Though the program did not involve the use of unmanned “drones”, it sparked a larger conversation about the speed of developing surveillance technology, and the current lack of policies to protect privacy.
“Whether we are talking about piloted airborne surveillance programs or drones, the technology is here and it will only get smaller, cheaper, and more sophisticated,” added Bilancini. “Given this reality, it is important for every city to have policies that address the potential impact this evolving technology will have on privacy.”