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Police Spending Millions To Monitor Social Media of Suspects and Protestors

Police Spending Millions To Monitor Social Media of Suspects and Protestors

Photo: File photo of various social media accounts.

Local police departments throughout the United States have spent roughly $4.75 million for software tools and apps to monitor the locations of protestors and social media hashtags used by suspects according to a Washington Post news report.

The report cites research conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice: a non-profit organization focused on criminal justice issues and research.

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Based on public records, the Brennan Center analyzed the spending of more than 150 local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States—that have contracts with data and app start-up companies that gather data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sources.

Faiza Patel, co-director of liberty and national security program at the Brennan center reported that, “The numbers we have are massively understated … But it gives an indication of a phenomenon that is growing rapidly and flying under the radar.”

Patel also reported that the trend of data mining and analysis in law enforcement has exploded in the past two years.

However, privacy advocates are concerned about data tools and increased social media monitoring being conducted by police.

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1 Comment

  1. ahaz

    This is just sliver of the amount of surveillance that LE at all levels engage of which the public and even legislators are unaware. Social media monitoring, LPR, aerial surveillance, stingray technologies have been implemented and used by LE, often without public comment, legislative and judicial oversight. For instance, Stingray (IMSI) technology is probably the most invasive technology that LE has recently utilized and implemented under the cover of night. Many of the departments signed NDA’s with the manufacturer to hide the use of this technology and the FBI actively encouraged this level of obfuscation to prevent the public from knowing what this technology does and the circumstances of it’s use. In fact, despite judicial rulings on this issue, still attempt to misrepresent this technology in warrant applications, stating that LE organization is performing a simple pen & trap activity, when it’s actually much more. Many state legislatures have not created any law that standardizes the use of this technology, the length of which data collected can be retained or how it’s accessed. It’s really the wild west in terms of LE surveillance. I know people were alarmed by the NSA and their capabilities, but at least the NSA does have rules and oversight. What’s happening at the state and local level is far more dangerous to our civil liberties.

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