The ACLU wants to know why Denver police are collecting social media posts

Denverite: A plan by Denver police to collect and analyze large amounts of social media data recalls the “spy files” of the early 2000s and deserves more scrutiny, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The Daily Dot, an online publication that follows technology trends,uncovered the purchase earlier this year by the Denver police department of several subscriptions to Geofeedia, a program that can collect and analyze social media posts from areas as large as cities or as small as a single building.

Here’s how the company describes its tool: “Aggregating social media posts from any user-defined location in the world allows you to stay ahead of topics, trends and situations with proactive insights and alerts from real-time location-based intelligence. You can discover trends and patterns within the world’s largest set of location-based social data to inform better decision-making. And you can respond effectively and efficiently based on real-time location-based insights.”

Other cities have used Geofeedia to keep tabs on protests and parades, and in the requisition request, Denver police made mention of last year’s Marade, when protestors from Black Lives Matter disrupted the event, and the 4/20 rally as types of events police might want to monitor.

The ACLU of Colorado announced Thursday that it has filed a public records request with the Denver Police Department to better understand how the department is and is not using Geofeedia. The request asks for the department’s current intelligence policy and any additional policies and training materials regarding social media surveillance.  The ACLU also requested a full list of search terms that officers have used while deploying Geofeedia.

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