New law enforcement technology involves biometric data: scanning and analyzing unique features on a person to identify him or her through surveillance or other footage. With a camera on practically every street corner in America, cops could essentially track suspects’ daily lives.
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and public records hound MuckRock want to shine a light on this practice, which has very little transparency:
There is no central list that shows which police agencies have these devices or a uniform set of policies for how they must be used. So, EFF and MuckRock have partnered up to conduct a census of sorts. We’re seeking your help to file public records requests with local law enforcement agencies around the country to shine light on mobile biometric technologies.
The crowdsourcing campaign encourages users to file Freedom of Information Act requests to find out whether their local police department or any agency of note uses biometric data right now. MuckRock will foot the bill and handle all of the requests through their automated process.
The website also lists alternative methods to get involved, if you’re a more hands-on person or a real surveillance watchdog.
Given the way that bureaucracy works, it might take some time before the EFF and MuckRock finally get the information they’re after. But holding local agencies accountable for transparency, especially when using technology, is definitely a good thing.