The Latest on San Diego's Privacy Advisory Board

A lit pedestrian bridge in San Diego is pictured at night time. A long exposure leaves tail lights from cars streaking across the photograph's canvas.
Photo Credit: Frank McKenna

This is a "live post" that will be updated with new information as San Diego advances through the process of establishing the new privacy advisory board (PAB). San Diego Privacy is a project of Tech Lead San Diego, which is working with other community groups in the TRUST SD Coalition to establish and support the new surveillance ordinance and PAB.

If you're interested in working in support of San Diego's new Privacy Advisory Board, head on over to our PAB landing page and submit your email address. We'll get in touch with you!

March 2023: The first meeting of San Diego's Privacy Advisory Board happened on March 15th, 2023. At that meeting, the board elected a chairperson and vice chairperson. They also held a vote on a suggestion from the City of San Diego that the board have a special meeting on or before March 23, ostensibly to begin consideration of the City's proposal to purchase 500 new "smart streetlight" surveillance devices.

The motion for the board to have a special meeting did not receive the 5 affirmative votes required for it to pass. The board began the work of drafting its own rules for operating, which are called bylaws.

City staff failed to properly record the meeting, so no recording of the meeting by the City has been forthcoming.

At this time, it is thought the Privacy Advisory Board will next meet on April 27, 2023 at City Hall, on the 12th floor. It is possible they will deliberate over bylaws they are creating, and it is also possible that they will consider proposals for specific surveillance technology by city departments, but only if those departments send the appropriate notice to the board's chairperson alerting him of their proposal, as required by law.

According to the current ordinance, city departments will need to obtain City Council approval to continue operating all existing surveillance technology by September, 2023. If a technology does not achieve approval by that time, use of the technology will have to cease, until such time the technology can achieve approval.

San Diego Privacy has already assembled some community working groups to study specific surveillance technologies and to engage with the Privacy Advisory Board.

If you are a community member who would like to volunteer to serve on the new board, or if you would like to volunteer your time helping us support the new board, please visit our advisory board landing page and use the Sign Up button at the top to join us. We will get in touch with you quickly to learn more about your interest.

The Privacy Advisory Board ordinance was one of two ordinances that are linked together, and each was passed unanimously by San Diego City Council to initiate community-led oversight of surveillance technology. The second ordinance, the TRUST Surveillance Oversight ordinance, received its final unanimous vote of approval via consent on August 2, 2022.

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