Police Investigate Protesters Through Smart Streetlight

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Police Investigate Protesters Through Smart Streetlight
Short Title San Diego Police Department Accessed the City Network of Cameras to Monitor Protesters
Location San Diego
Date June 2020

Taxonomy Surveillance, Secondary Use, Disclosure, Identification
Information Behavioral, Physical Characteristics, Identifying
Threat Actors San Diego City Council, Law Enforcement

Affected Protesters in San Diego
High Risk Groups Political Activists, Freedom Fighters, Ethnic Minority, Suspect
Secondary Consequences

San Diego Police Department accessed the city’s network of streetlight cameras at least 35 times in search of evidence for criminal actions by protesters.


In recent years, officials at City Hall of San Diego have attached thousands of sensors to city streetlights, many of which are capable of watching and listening in public rights of way.Surveillance

The project was originally pitched to the City Council in late 2016 as a way to capture transit and environmental data that could be useful to public planners and app makers. Increasingly, though, the devices have served the purpose of law enforcement. Secondary Use

In June 2020 San Diego was found to be sharing streetlight camera footage with police in connection to protests over the unequal and unjust treatment of Black Americans.Disclosure

Although it’s not uncommon for San Diego to share streetlight camera footage with other agencies, it was also not immediately clear in this case that the footage was available to federal authorities.

In several cases the police was already able to identify the protesters on the footage and press charges.Identification

Risk Statistics

Laws and Regulations