A whole host of reasons are being given to justify the increased surveillance and data mining of social media and the wider Internet itself: terrorism, suicide prevention, pre-crime detection of violence and other illegal acts, and even teenage alcohol abuse.This is being done at the federal level most egregiously with a recent ruling that the feds have now been given the green light to hack millions of private devices with only a single warrant.
This extends also to the smaller state/local level. Where many local police departments are willing to treat their their citizens as guilty until proven innocent. One of the key tools of this spreading surveillance state has been social media and Internet monitoring software. Many police departments and the federal government have taken the position that what can be found on social media is information from participants released willingly into the public domain, so it’s fair game for analysis.
An announcement from the Boston PD demonstrates that they appear willing to go to a whole new level of monitoring, which goes far beyond social media and would include just about anything that appears on the Web. The Boston Globe recently reported on the capabilities of this new software that will cost taxpayers $1.4 million for the privilege of having their free speech subjected to scrutiny and their civil liberties undermined
The software would be able to search blogs, websites, chat rooms, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. It would provide law enforcement officials with an address of where the content was posted and allow police to create a “geo-fence” that would send alerts when new posts are made within an area that meets specified search criteria.
In addition to the troubling concept of having Big Brother looking over the shoulder of anyone typing anything anywhere on the Internet is the stated desire to establish connections between users, opening people up to guilt by association.
The Boston PD is currently in the solicitation phase of seeking this technology and has set December 5th as the date to choose a supplier. It would behoove anyone living in Boston who has concerns about the threat to their privacy and right to assembly to immediately express your demands to the Boston PD in the hope that they will pull this program before it is implemented.
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