Privacy SOS

Advocacy groups to City of Boston: Drop the social media spying plans!

Today 21 civil rights, civil liberties, religious, and community organizations sent Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Police Department Commissioner William Evans a letter calling on the city leaders to drop a controversial proposal to spend $1.4 million on social media monitoring software. 

The letter comes just days after Twitter cut off a third social media monitoring company from access to its data ‘firehose.’ All three companies—Geofeedia, Snaptrends, and Media Sonar—marketed their products to law enforcement as useful for spying on Black dissidents, according to records obtained by the ACLU. Media Sonar also apparently told law enforcement agencies its product could help them “avoid the warrant process” during criminal investigations.

As far as we know, the City of Boston still has a chance to back out of its plan to spend $1.4 million in public dollars on such a system. We hope the city will do so.

The plan doesn’t just threaten civil rights and civil liberties—it is also a risky financial move. Now that so many of these companies have been cut off from Twitter data, dropping the city’s plan to acquire this expensive technology is also the fiscally responsible thing to do. 

Read the coalition letter, and more information about the BPD’s plans and the ACLU’s response.

© 2017 ACLU of Massachusetts.