John here. That’s a long headline, but it’s accurate. I wrote about these private spies for Rolling Stone’s website, and you should go read it and share because you probably think first amendment rights are super important.
The quick summary is that as cops are becoming more militarized, they’re also moving into intelligence gathering — an activity traditionally frowned up for law enforcement to engage in. The companies I detail in the story — and there are many more examples — openly market their products as a way to respond to protests and covertly monitor social media data.
The law is notoriously so to respond to tech advances, and since much of this activity takes place in total secrecy people who tweet about a protest have no idea how their data is being collected, how long it is being stored for, or whether it’s being processed as a way to discover networks between activists.
If you like it, share on social media. The irony isn’t lost on me.