City Government

Big Brother’s Ill Conceived Spy Cams


The Big Brothers of Team Dave plan to to spend taxpayer dollars to prevent unwanted visitors at Boise City Hall and the police-fire City Hall West building, using FACIAL RECOGNITION cameras.

Margaret Carmel over at IDAHO PRESS has a story about a creepy contract that will cost more than $100,000 to spy on everyone entering the city buildings and match their facial characteristics with a list of anyone who has been given a legal order not to enter either of the buildings or be near one of city employees. It is a product of Meridian-based CompuNet.

The system will not be connected to any Boise Police data bases. According to the Idaho Press, “the policies relating to how data is kept, how individuals are inputted and removed from the system and other procedures will be approved by an internal committee before it is installed.”

It would seem logical that any “legal order” to ban someone from a city facility would have to come from a court of law and not some sort of rag tag “internal committee” of Team Dave’s creation.

Team Dave spokesman Mike Journee told the Idaho Press, “We recognized that it’s important for our employees to feel safe at their jobs, and given the high-profile nature of City Hall and some of the decisions that are made here, we felt it was important to invest in their safety and their security going forward and this part of that effort.”

Journee said the City currently uses an analog system, passing around photos to receptionists depicting unwanted guests.

The American Civil Liberties Union will have a field day with this one. “An identification — whether accurate or not — could cost people their freedom or even their lives,” Jacob Snow, an attorney with the ACLU, wrote on their website.

Of immediate concern to the GUARDIAN is what it takes to get on or off the “not welcome” list and how many people are currently on the list. In our opinion the system could certainly have a chilling effect on normal discourse.

If you protest too much or too loud, you could ostensibly make the “unwelcome” list.

Comments & Discussion

21 comments for “Big Brother’s Ill Conceived Spy Cams”

  1. So I am guessing this was something else that was never discussed in front of the public at a City Council meeting so that people could provide testimony, and weigh in on being spied upon. If Bieter has been getting enough threats to resort to this unacceptable step – then that is another sign he is long past his shelf date, and City policies while he has been Mayor have earned him a boatload of enemies.

  2. Bonnie Krupp
    Jul 6, 2019, 8:19 pm

    Did they say the list could be viewed by the public?

  3. Boise's very own No Fly List
    Jul 6, 2019, 8:56 pm

    Perhaps a large reward should be offered to anyone providing to the Guardian a certified copy of any and all blacklists kept by the elected or appointed City government, and or employees.

    Any such list should be public, it should be administered fairly and appropriately by the police department, and no person should be on such a list unless deemed appropriate by court of law.

    I suspect being on one of the City’s blacklist inappropriately is going to be worth a lot of money for the victims and their lawyers. Class action if it’s a big enough list. ACLU where are you?

  4. Deep Midnight
    Jul 7, 2019, 12:30 am

    The city couldn’t possibly have blacklisted that many unwanted people to warrant such tech, or could they? Is this tech for techs sake, or is their super secret blacklist so huge that its now a large concern for them?

    Whats coming next I wonder?

    Bad news or perhaps they are planning on going full force with their extreme left ideology of not listening, of spend spend spend, and of sanctuary city.

    Either way, it seems ridiculous to me. It makes me wonder too what exactly one has to do to get banned; speak in opposition to their vision?

  5. Deep Midnight
    Jul 7, 2019, 12:40 am

    Also…Does the city have the right to take rights from others it deems deplorable? I was under the impression that no one could be banned from a city or state government building. If the city bans them, where will they go to make their voices heard, and who will they address? Doesnt a ban, then, violate the rights of an individual?

  6. David Klinger
    Jul 7, 2019, 9:00 am

    Reminds me of my college days at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill back in the 1970s. Some store owners on Franklin Street were beginning to install primitive video cameras to monitor possible pilferage among the students who shopped along this popular college strip.

    Wally Kuralt (brother of Charles Kuralt, the CBS newsman) owned and operated the Intimate Bookshop, a beloved local institution that sold novels and textbooks in that era when books still existed and people actually read. Kuralt had the inspired idea to put his trust in his customers, not by bolting spy-cams on the walls throughout his store to monitor his patrons, but by setting up a “reverse camera” so his customers could watch him working in his office! Anyone could walk into the store and watch Wally on the spy-cam TV screen by the front door, as he went about his daily tasks, managing the money, keeping the books, and making sure everything ran smoothly. “What’s Wally up to today?” became the refrain.

    Seems to me we could use a dose of that common sense and trust today here in Boise. It’s just a variation on “Boise Kind”.

  7. This is the same Bieter regime and complicit City Council (through sitting back and enabling the Mayor’s increasingly Third World Dictator-style actions) that hired Brandwatch to spy on the public on social media. I believe the Guardian published a piece about Brandwatch?

    And as we learned earlier this year, the City hired Strategies 360 to write propaganda pieces (like Op-Eds) cheering on basing F-35 noise monster War Planes in Boise.

  8. Boisean Since Forever
    Jul 7, 2019, 10:18 am

    George Orwell would be proud. He was more insightful than anyone dared believe. “Back in the day” I received a series of three letters from the Coles administration advising me that I would soon be fined for not having a license for my dog. I never had owned a dog, but the neighbor’s delinquent teenage son thought it was great sport to report me based on “evidence.” I advised the officials they were welcome to fine and/or arrest me and that we could settle it in court. That was the (temporary)end of government-sanctioned harassment.

  9. This is wrong in so many ways — civil liberties, costs — the City itself admits there is no specific issue it is trying to address.

  10. Kinda recalls Dirk Kempthorne’s return home after his stint in the US Senate to claim his seat as governor and barricade himself in the Statehouse—paranoia among the powerful.

  11. Our Despot Mayor
    Jul 7, 2019, 2:14 pm

    And the hits keep coming!! We need to wake up enough Boiseans before it is too late. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see how close we are to a looming Mayoral election. Throughout his lengthy tenure, the Mayor has taken care of his shortcomings and key support. He is not the politician ex-councilman Alan Shealy once joked about. Two well-paid aides now serve as a spokesman and a ‘confidential advisor’. Allies hold key positions in local as well as State government. I fear the once wonderful city we enjoyed just a few short years ago has only begun the reinvention of itself under the current spendthrift leadership.

  12. western guy
    Jul 7, 2019, 2:46 pm

    What’s next: a moat; armed guards; dogs?

  13. DENISE D ZIMMERMAN
    Jul 7, 2019, 4:24 pm

    Looks like Bieter is trying to protect himself from the citizens of Boise who don’t agree with his politics.

  14. Eamonn Harter
    Jul 8, 2019, 10:16 am

    Just wear a ski mask if you have to go to City Hall. Problem solved.

  15. Yes, BIG Brother (or something).
    And the biggest one is in Washington DC.
    from 2018: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/secret-service-tests-facial-recognition-surveillance-system-outside-white-house-n943536

    This is happening at every level of government for enhanced security. It already is, or will be soon, at schools, e.g. at the main entry – if the machine doesn’t recognize the student/person – alert!

    All a bunch of Orwellian paranoia until it works as intended and saves lives, right?

    The bigger question is, “Why are there such restraining orders protecting city employees?”… oh yea, too many nut jobs walking around in the world and not enough effort to help people with mental illnesses.

    Ironic that liberal San Francisco is banning the use of it by the city and law enforcement.

  16. Overbudgeted
    Jul 8, 2019, 6:26 pm

    I think they’re just killing the statement so to speak. They’ve got to spend this money, and this probably falls under equipment and safety or something. It is also possible there is information that causes them to want to look at the drivers license bureau. The only guy I know of who can’t go to city hall is the guy who told the CCDC director where he thought his head was, and that he was unethical, in a very direct way. (Cannot quote it, but I am sure it is juicy.) Illegal immigration into the country finds a bottleneck at drivers license bureaus and illegal immigrants should expect some push-back and enforcement.

    Spokesman Mike called the current method analog. I know what would be effective. A digital pr avatar.

    Vote them all out. On principle that they work elsewhere.

  17. Boise's very own No Fly List
    Jul 8, 2019, 8:55 pm

    Been to the airport lately? We’ve all be feeding our facial identities into Facebook the DMV, Walmart cameras, and TSA for several years. Our DNA with each blood draw. Every phone call, text, internet packet etc. on earth is recorded in a NSA database. Voice identity in seconds. Fingerprints into the smartphone. Driving habits into the car’s OnStar tracker. And so on and so on. It is impossible to be off the grid.

    As others have eluded, this City Hall system is going to be used for detecting more that just the angry ex. They can buy a huge database that will ID everyone scanned. Is it a paranoid administration looking for ways to track perceived adversaries? Let’s not forget the clandestine snooping and tracking they did during the F-35 arguments. The wild-ass stuff written in preceding comments is all plausible and not so wild-ass these days. The ability of the powerful few to abuse their power has never been greater. I really do wonder are there lists of perceived opponents. Is there a clandestine local social credit enforcement system? I want a news reporter with integrity to find out. Somebody honest in media please clear this up before it becomes the accepted norm. I find it disturbing how so many of our academics and politicians speak fondly of China. The technology comes from America. Why does our government want to track us, why do we let them?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XLnnLyx7nQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqqZEf4LJuw
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydPqKhgh9Mg
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/research/a28210348/pentagon-heartbeat-laser-beams/

  18. western guy
    Jul 8, 2019, 10:22 pm

    No one has asked or said what the security response will be if/when the facial recognition software proclaims a hit: swat team busting out of a nearby ready room; sirens sounding; crash doors at each department closing automatically, sealing in citizens (are they allowed in City Hall, still?) and employees?

    Can anyone tell us WTF is going on in the minds of Team Dave (I include the City Council. here)?

  19. Rabula is right. It is reminiscent of Duh Dirk. Aside from that, it’s expensive, unnecessary, silly, and loaded with potential abuse.

  20. the Dunderdee
    Jul 9, 2019, 8:40 pm

    I wonder if we all held Bill Islet’s life sized photo, or the Vanishing Boise Lady’s, or our dear editor Dave Frazier’s for that matter, up on posters as we entered if the system would go haywire. “Alert — a dozen threats entering building…” Maybe someone could make a buck selling them a the Flying M.

  21. western guy
    Jul 9, 2019, 10:31 pm

    Make masks of ‘undesirables’ and wear them into City Hall. Then there would be a ‘no mask’ ordinance created.

Post a comment

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address:

Categories