ACLU sues to block Baltimore’s aerial surveillance program
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to block the Baltimore Police Department from launching an aerial surveillance program.
The civil rights group argues in the case, filed on behalf of local activists in Maryland District Court, that the program would threaten the rights to privacy and free association for Baltimore residents.
The ACLU is seeking an injunction to the block the “Aerial Investigation Research” plan.
Baltimore officials earlier this month voted to approve the rollout of the system, which was developed by the police department and a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems.
The program would send planes flying over the city at least 40 hours a week to almost constantly collect wide-angle photos of Baltimore.
The pilot program is set to be launched later this month and last for 180 days.
“Putting residents under continuous, aerial surveillance will impact the privacy rights of everyone, but it is especially dangerous for Black and Brown communities,” David Rocah, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, said in a statement.
“Baltimore is a city with a terrible history of racism and lack of accountability for abuses by police. It’s the last place a novel system of mass surveillance should be tested.”
Advocates for the program say the footage could be used to help investigate violent crimes.
The Hill has reached out to the Baltimore Police Department for comment on the lawsuit.