Privacy SOS

Boston Police cancels plan to buy $1.4 million social media surveillance system

The people of Boston just scored a major victory for privacy, civil liberties, and people power. After thousands of Bostonians took action to demand the City drop a dangerous proposal to spend as much as $1.4 million on Orwellian social media surveillance software, Boston’s Mayor and police commissioner dropped the plan. The city’s announcement, made late Friday night on the Boston Police Department’s website, says Mayor Walsh and Commissioner Evans agreed that the plan went beyond what the police need to protect public safety. The police statement said a different, more limited proposal would better suit public safety needs while protecting privacy.

This victory is the direct result of your participation in the local democratic process. Thank you for taking action, spreading the word, and raising your voice against this costly spy boondoggle! 

In addition to canceling the proposed plan, the Boston Police Department proactively made public the bids submitted by companies in response to its request for proposals. Take a look at those bids below. Stay tuned to read more about what these companies offered the city, and what the city ultimately rejected thanks to your action.

Dataminr proposal

Uncharted proposal

Verint cover letter

Verint proposal

The following statement can be attributed to Kade Crockford, Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts:

“We are very happy the Mayor and the police commissioner heard the people of Boston, over three thousand of whom raised their voices against this dangerous proposal. This is a victory not only for privacy and transparency but for the democratic process. The people flexed their muscle and the powers that be listened. That’s how our system is supposed to work. 

“The ACLU will continue to work to pull back the curtain on secretive surveillance programs at every level of government, and push for programs, policies, and accountability mechanisms that protect civil liberties and civil rights. Like the commissioner, we look forward to working with City Councilor Andrea Campbell and the other city councilors on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee to ensure transparency and public participation in policy making going forward. Crucially, part of that process must include examining existing BPD surveillance programs and policies. We are confident that together, advocacy organizations, public officials, and most importantly members of the public will be able to further strengthen civil liberties and civil rights in our great city while also advancing public safety.”

© 2017 ACLU of Massachusetts.