According to publicly available budget records, the Boston Police Department contracts with a social media monitoring company that received start-up funding from the CIA’s venture capital arm In-Q-Tel. The company, Geofeedia Inc., sells its software to police departments nationwide, as well as to media companies. The organization LittleSis, which documents connections between powerful companies and government actors, has published documents from the Austin, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Philadelphia police departments revealing contracts with the company.
LittleSis has an outstanding request in to the Boston Police Department seeking information about Geofeedia contracts. The organization should receive records describing a $6,700 payment the BPD made to the company in January 2016, evidence of which is available on the city’s open checkbook website.
Geofeedia representatives have spoken publicly about how their tool can be used to monitor political protests and dissent, including the Black Lives Matter movement. Let’s hope the Boston Police Department discloses documents revealing how they use the tool.