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Cops Wanted to Keep Mass Surveillance App Secret; Privacy Advocates Refused


It took the Electronic Frontier Foundation months and more than 100 public records requests to gather thousands of pages of evidence to compile a clear picture that shows how local law enforcement increasingly mines location data.

Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Much is known about how the federal government leverages location data by serving warrants to major tech companies like Google or Facebook to investigate crime in America. However, much less is known about how location data influences state and local law enforcement investigations. It turns out that's because many local police agencies intentionally avoid mentioning the under-the-radar tech they use—sometimes without warrants—to monitor private citizens.

As one Maryland-based sergeant wrote in a department email, touting the benefit of "no court paperwork" before purchasing the software, "The success lies in the secrecy."

This week, an investigation from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Associated Press—supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting—has made public what could be considered local police's best-kept secret. Their reporting revealed the potentially extreme extent of data surveillance of ordinary people being tracked and made vulnerable just for moving about small-town America.

From Ars Technica
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