Police departments may be scouring your social media right now.
Authorities across the country increasingly use bleeding-edge software that can track over 120 social media platforms and online databases to retrieve the digital bread crumbs we leave on the internet. Technological developments have slashed profiling work from months down to minutes.
These breakthroughs were in part made possible by the SociatNet program developed by Wyoming-based company ShadowDragon.
Journalists know relatively little about how SocialNet works. ShadowDragon has not disclosed a list of the police departments using their software. Enhanced digital surveillance doesn’t come without controversy. (Daily Mail)
The Michigan.gov website does not indicate which precincts, if any, are using the program, but the official State of Massachusetts site indicates SocialNet was licensed this year as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods to comb social data in six regions—Boston, Lawrence, Brockton, Worcester, New Bedford and Springfield.
Michigan police also purchased OIMonitor, another ShadowDragon tool, which sends alerts in response to data captured by SocialNet, potentially predicting a crime before it occurs, akin to the movie, Minority Report.
Civil and human rights activists warn social media scans can target casual or off-handed remarks that undermine the First Amendment and threaten minorities in particular.
‘People shouldn’t be afraid to voice their political opinions or speak out against the police themselves because they fear the police are watching them,’ Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, told NBC 10 in Boston.
ShadowDragon founder Daniel Clemens told DailyMail.com that the company’s software ‘can only be used with publicly available data and can’t be used to analyze private data obtained through other means.’