Town Square

Post a New Topic

Town video taping of its citizens

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Aug 25, 2010

It has come to my attention that the Town has video cameras and taping devices installed at locations where the Town staff has contact with the public. I urge you to either immediately cease the use of these devices and to destroy all of the accumulated recordings OR to immediately and publicly disclose their presence and the policies regarding 1) who has access to the recorded information, 2) for what specific purposes 3) how long and where are the recordings retained and 5) if an individual member of the public can request to NOT have their interactions with the Town staff recorded and still have access to the appropriate Town staff.

If these recording devices remain in operation I will then submit a public records requests for copies of the recordings for every time that I was personally recorded while visiting my Town Hall and meeting with Town employees - including receiving counter service and US Postal services.

Thank you,

Comments (16)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Brother
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I believe the origin of this practice dates back to the moment that Lois was transfered out of the Bld Dept trailer and was sent over to work the post office.
While still at the trailer she had a buzzer button that called a few select APD buddies to come running when she needed back up intimidating disgruntled residents.
With her move to admin and its proximity to the APD, the buzzer quickly evolved into cameras (some with and some conveniently with out audio), which became useful tools in setting up people like Troy and netting big payouts to Pilar.
It's too bad that the camera is not positioned to capture some of the tastier fare served up at the counter by Eileen Wilkerson who's back is always to the camera--only the frustration of the suplicant is documented for posterity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Peter:

it is perfectly legal to video tape people in a public place. They have no reasonable expectation of privacy. And you are within your rights to veiw the accumulated tape.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Menlo Voter

If what you are saying is correct then the video Buckheit posted on You Tube should stay up.

You Tube has taken it down. This suggests that either your are correct as to the application of an employee's right to privacy or You Tube is.

I do not know whether you or You Tube is correct. I dare say however that both of you cannot be.

I must also say most emphatically that, as it pertains to conversations I have had with Town employees I do have a reasonable expectation of privacy. I believe that said expectation of privacy was violated by the audio surveilance which I have reason to believe accompanies the visual surveilance that was observed by Buckheit.

I will also say that the indivdual within Police who I was told helped install the viedo and audio surveilance equipment was also the one who searched, without a warrant the laptop computer I returned to the town after having been suspended.

Evidence of this police officer's total disregard for my constitutional right to privacy are two e-mails from this police officer acknowledging that he needed a search warrant to conduct a forensic examination on my computer, that he did not have a search warrant and that he went ahead and did forensics anyway.

I have provided this e-mail to Chief Guerra in support of my citizen's complaint.

What is going on in Atherton is an outrage, it is an abuse of power.
Gruber should be fired for letting this happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ken Iisaka
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm

The video is still on YouTube. perhaps it's cached?

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Mr. Johns:

there is a difference between audio and video recordings. The law states private conversations cannot be recorded without the consent and knowledge of both parties. Video can be shot anywhere in public as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Youtube has it wrong. It is a somewhat convoluted law, but basically you have no expectation of rpivacy in public. If you are in a private place meeting with one other person you do, but standing at the desk of the Atherton city hall - no expectation of privacy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Menlo Voter states:"The law states private conversations cannot be recorded without the consent and knowledge of both parties."

i believe that this is the law with regard to telephone conversations; I do not believe it applies to face to face conversations.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Atherton employees fear being discharged for speaking their mind. They know their conversations are being listened to.

Gruber should be fired. Wilkerson should be fired. Everyone involved in installing the surveilance equipment at Town hall should be fired.

There is no justification for the equipment to be there in the first place.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Sorry guys, the law is clear as is judicial decisions, when you are at work you are subject to surveilance. There isn't a darn thing an employee can do about it. The employer has access to your computer, your email, your phone, etc.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Not true Menlo Voter

I know this because an Attorney hired by an Atherton wrote an opinion on this very issue. It was in reference to forensics done on another town employee's computer.

Public employees have an even greater right to privacy that private sector employees because of the spectre of involvement by law enforcement.

This is a complicated and highly contested area of the law. I offer no opinion on this issue. I am not an attorney I am only rela)infg my underastanding of what others have said and to emphasize that it is not as clear cut as Menlo Voter says it is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Interesting Peter how you demand everything be out in the open, then want to run away from the cameras.

You should be more careful in what you promote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:46 am

Just Wandering - I do believe that the public's business should be done in public. I also believe that secret taping of citizens is inappropriate. The two positions are not in conflict except for those who lack the ability to discern the difference.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:18 am

Peter:

it applies to private conversations as well.

See: Web Link

and: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

Menlo Voter - thanks, very helpful.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm

"I also believe that secret taping of citizens is inappropriate"

This is done all the time now - in parking lots, on street corners/intersections, the local 7-11. Yea, maybe there is a sign, but come on, who reads every signal warning sign - and what's the alternative?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Warning signs of all kinds are there for a reason - if you choose not to read them you do so at your own risk. My preference would be to have warning signs that advise you that you are being video taped and then each person can decide how they wish to proceed. Given that the service counter at the Town Hall is also a contract postal station I find it particularly intrusive that everything I mail is video taped - given that it normally takes a court order to examine anyone's mail.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Information Please
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Just about every US Post Office I go to has a video camera installed.

Peter, are you holding the Federal Government to a different standard than the Town? Let's be fair about your criticisms.

I am pretty certain that the court order would be necessary to examine the mail contents, not the packaging which is in plain view.

The City of SF, one of the most civil liberty oriented cities in the USA, has cameras everywhere. And, not a lot of warning signs.

The fact is, you are now recorded everywhere you go: Target, Safeway, Menlo Park City Center's parking lot, and ... THE UNITED STATES POST OFFICE.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Local picks on 2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand list
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 3,178 views

Ode to Brussels Sprout
By Laura Stec | 20 comments | 2,470 views

Go Giants! Next Stop: World Series!
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,851 views

Charter School Proposal Steeped In Unintended Consequences
By Erin Glanville | 38 comments | 1,695 views

Measure M-- I am not drinking Greenheartís expensive potion
By Martin Lamarque | 8 comments | 428 views