Office Hours Sunday, March 6 , 3:30 pm
I’m excited to host Representative Ruth Balser, who will join Councilor Alicia Bowman and me to talk about all things parklands and open space protection. She has been helping us at the intersection of Quinobequin and Hemlock Gorge to get funding for the historic Stone House (technically in Wellesley), sidewalk improvements and soon-to-come crosswalks. She has also secured funding for the Crystal Lake Bathhouse. Come with your questions and suggestions.
And, yes, there will be time to talk about other areas of interest afterward.
Surveillance and Facial Recognition Technology
It’s important to me that our local government respects your civil rights and right to privacy. It is also important that, any time the city, state or nation acquires a new way to compile data on you, the reasons and guardrails around unwarranted intrusion are clear and openly debated.
So on Feb. 9th, I invited the Massachusetts ACLU’s privacy and surveillance expert, Kade Crockford, to the Public Safety & Transportation committee meeting. Crockford laid out the dangers of “policy by procurement.” This is when police or other departments buy surveillance technology, often using grant funds, without a full Council discussion about what the technology does, how it works, and how it will be used.
We also learned about the fallibility of facial recognition technology for identification, and how it particularly mis-identifies women, the young, the old and people of color. You can read the report here:
Our next steps will be to examine ordinance language to limit facial recognition in Newton—building on what Sen. Cynthia Creem has done at the state level—and to ensure that Council properly vets any technological surveillance and the use of and access to any collected data.
Speaking of state lawmakers—Councilor Bowman and I are holding a porch party for anyone who wants to get our legislators and a few other choice candidates on the state primary ballot.
Hope to see you at office hours!!
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Almost every month I write constituents about a topic before the city