A convention in Philadelphia this week discussed a plan to allow law enforcement to “keep anything deemed criminal off the Internet.” This includes, among other things, stopping any form of protest deemed “illegal” including the sorts of marches and civil disobedience actions engaged in by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr.
On hand was a Chicago Police Department official who told attendees at this law enforcement conference that his department has been working directly with a “security chief at Facebook” to block certain users from the social networking site if it is determined they have posted what is deemed “criminal content.”
Kenneth Lipp, an independent journalist who attended the lecture, reported from the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference that a the unnamed CPD officer “said specifically that his agency was working with Facebook to block users’ by their individual account, IP address or device, such as a cell phone or computer.”
Lipp noted that law enforcement agencies discussed technologies at “workshops held by and for top police executives from throughout the world (mostly US, Canada and the United Kingdom, with others like Nigeria among a total of 13,000 representatives of the law enforcement community in town for the event), and widely available from vendors,” that would “allow agencies to block content, users and even devices – for example, ‘Geofencing’ software that allows departments to block service to a specified device when the device leaves an established virtual geographic perimeter.”
“The capability,” Lipp explained, “is a basic function of advanced mobile technologies like smartphones, ‘OnStar’ type features that link drivers through GIS to central assistance centers, and automated infrastructure and other hardware including unmanned aerial systems that must ‘sense and respond.’”
A recent article in Governing magazine in which it was reported that the Chicago Police Department is using “network analysis” tools to identify persons of interest on social media, citing the frightening statistic that “95.9 percent of law enforcement agencies use social media, 86.1 percent for investigative purposes,” a statistic quoted from the head of the “social media group for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.”