Cops, Social Media Collude On New Ways To Block Internet Posts That Organize Public Protest

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We’ve already passed along a couple of disturbing things that have come out of this year’s International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) meeting, which wrapped up earlier in the week in Philadelphia.

Kenneth Lipp, an independent journalist and internet consultant, attended the event and has reported on his blog that police and social media services are in the process of teaming up to nurture development of techniques that would effectively squelch public protest organized and planned through the internet.

“Police Departments worldwide are aggressively developing methods and policy to avail themselves of both the public relations and the Big Data resources of ‘social media,’ and adapting to social media platforms as environments for strategic and tactical intelligence,” Lipp writes.

[N]ot yet reported in the press, a senior police officer from the Chicago PD told a panel on Monday that his department was working with Facebook’s security chief to block users’ [sic] from the site by account (person), IP, and device (he did not say if by UUID or MAC address or other means of hardware ID) if it is determined they have posted what is deemed criminal content. Facebook’s Joe Sullivan was scheduled to speak according to the original schedule for the panel “Helping Law Enforcement Respond to Mass Gatherings Spurred by Social Media,” but was unable to attend… [emphasis added.]

The PrivacySOS blog joined the criticism Thursday by lambasting Facebook, which already is handing the government anything it requests without compensation, for potentially colluding with police to institute a “kill switch” that targets grass-roots, organic dissemination of internet information about public protests – gatherings which, if the Constitution still means anything, can’t even be construed as illegal in and of themselves.

The ramifications are sinister: protests are implicitly illegal to law enforcement officials who view this sort of capability as an asset. Worse, sharing information on the internet about planned peaceful events, regardless of their protection under the 1st Amendment, could itself be interpreted as a crime by cops more enamored by the awesome power of technology than its awesome potential for oppressive misuse.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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