'Boston Police effectively broke the law by illegally surveilling social media users for years to conduct online surveillance in 2014, 2015, and 2016, without telling the city council, and violating civilians right to free speech, a new blog post by the ACLU alleges.
In December 2016, the Boston City Council held a hearing to discuss the Boston Police Department’s plan to spend $1.4 million on a social media surveillance system called Geofeedia. After news of the department’s plans became public news, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans claimed at the time, “We’re not going after ordinary people. It’s a necessary tool of law enforcement and helps in keeping our neighborhoods safe from violence, as well as terrorism, human trafficking, and young kids who might be the victim of a pedophile.”
However, the plans were scrapped by skeptical city council members, Mayor Marty Walsh and Commissioner Evans. Leading up to 2016, since as far back as 2014 according to the documents, the department secretly monitored social media posts of thousands of ordinary Bostonians with other surveillance software that were not named by the report. The police even spied on a then–sitting City Councilor, Tito Jackson — who was, ironically enough, a critic of the BPD’s 2016 plan to buy the outrageously overpriced system, the report stated.
The Geofeedia software was first used on a trial basis for two weeks in January 2014 and then for another two weeks in November 2014 without any type of approval from the city council. The documents show that during this two-week trial of Geofeedia in November 2014, BPD used the software to monitor and collect social media posts about protests in Boston in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.'
Read more: Boston Police Waste Taxpayer Money Violating Law Through Illegal Surveillance Of Citizenry
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