Inside the ACLU’s nationwide campaign to curb police surveillance

In summer 2014, an intern at the ACLU found a memo from a public meeting in which the San Jose Police Department asked to be reimbursed for a “UAV,” which he immediately recognized as a type of drone.

“It was tucked in the back of an agenda item,” says Nicole Ozer, director of technology and civil liberties policy for the ACLU of California. The City Council approved the purchase of the $8,000 drone as part of a million-dollar federal grant, but there had been no public debate over the merits of acquiring such a controversial piece of equipment.

Ozer asked community members if they knew about the drone purchase. “We thought maybe we just missed it but everyone else knew about it,” Ozer says. But no one they reached out to had any idea.

The incident confirmed a fear shared by civil liberties advocates: police

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