Some detractors have dismissed the social media action as a waste of time. An editor at The Fifth Column challenged these in a Facebook post, narrating a debate on the subject he’d had. Editor Justin King pointed out that even if the check-in’s wasted two minutes of time, multiplied by hundreds of thousands, that equates to two months of wasted police work. Now imagine how ineffective the surveillance may be with millions continuously checking.
Morton County Sheriff’s, Guardian reports, called claims of police surveillance misguided “rumors.” Morton County, by their own account, isn’t “monitoring Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location for that matter.” Before you trust them, consider that Facebook access for water protectors was reported as “blocked’ during a military-style raidon a camp.
Data Collection Nationwide
Other police departments are similarly sketchy when pressured to speak on their surveillance technologies. Wisconsin’s Milwaukee PD hid the use of cell site simulators, or Stingrays, from courts for months. Stingrays mimic cellphone towers, thus tricking phones into providing all manner of user information and data.
Nearby, the Wauwatosa Police Department, despite having admitting to “collecting and analyzing cell phone data” in its public reports, denied ever even coming close to a Stingray. It took the department 5 weeks to respond to that open records request, which is considered unusually long. It remains unknown how Wauwatosa PD, which has been blasted for lack of transparency before, collects cell phone data.
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