DENVER POLICE MAKE PAYMENT FOR ESPIONAGE PROGRAM USING CONFISCATED CASH
BY ZACH BENESCH ; #BENESCHED
In the month of May, the Denver Police Department purchased surveillance softwares worth at least $30,000. According to reports, the law enforcement agency made the payment using confiscated funds. The surveillance equipment was developed by a startup which manufactures espionage technology known as Geofeedia Inc.
According to the Daily Dot, police chief Robert white gave approval for use of the funds gotten from civil assets forfeiture to make payment for the espionage program.
Civil asset forfeiture is an action of seizure of a person’s property by the police without charging or convicting that person of any crime. This has been fiercely debated and it is a contentious issue because it is considered by privacy advocates as an intentional violation of constitutional rights.
The surveillance equipment will equipped the Denver Police with the ability to monitor content on many social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram etc, all at once.
The software uses a mechanism referred to as geo-fencing, a location detection technology which collects all social media updates in a particular area. The Denver Police will be able to collect data such as past and live videos, photos and tweets.
Although this will empower the law enforcement agency to investigate social media accounts while crimes are happening in real time such as an active shooting incident, the collection of data is done in an expansive and indiscriminate manner and the personal data of innocent people are also scooped up in the process.
The Denver Police Department clearly refused a request by The Daily Dot to provide information about the particular type of social media content it scooped through the services of Geofeedia. According to The Daily Dot, the agency mentioned that it was inaccessible because it is confidential intelligence information and that the proprietary interest of the manufacturer is more important than whatever public purpose will be served by the release of such information.
The sound of the technology is very similar to cell site simulators or stingray devices. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, stingrays are cell phone surveillance devices which transmit signals to trick cell phones around their vicinity so as to give away their identity information and location by imitating cell phone towers.