The ACLU of Rhode Island issued the following statement in response to news reports today that RIPTA has refused to provide any information about its use of security cameras to monitor Kennedy Plaza.
“As an organization concerned with protecting the privacy of Rhode Islanders, the ACLU of Rhode Island is deeply troubled by RIPTA’s failure to provide any information about its ubiquitous use of surveillance cameras in the renovated Kennedy Plaza center. As reliance on surveillance cameras has become more and more commonplace, a level of transparency about how the surveillance is being used is crucial in order to protect the privacy of innocent Rhode Islanders.
“In order to do so and to avoid the misuse of invasive technology, it is critical that basic standards governing the use of these cameras be public. For example, how long is the recorded information kept before it is deleted? Who has access to the video? Can law enforcement agencies obtain surveillance recordings in the absence of an active and relevant criminal investigation? Do the cameras have zoom and pan capabilities that allow for the monitoring of activity outside the plaza proper? What standards has RIPTA put in place to prevent voyeuristic use of the cameras, or other mishandling of this technology?
“Basic information raised by these questions – who can view captured material, the purposes for which the recordings can be used, the process for third-party access, the standards for retaining and deleting the data – deserves public review and scrutiny. It is for exactly this purpose that the Access to Public Records Act was created, and we are disturbed by RIPTA’s assertion – one that we believe is incorrect – that these documents are simply exempt from the APRA. The ACLU calls upon RIPTA to promptly make that information available.”
This statement can be attributed to Hillary Davis, policy associate at the ACLU of Rhode Island.