Local police departments might be tracking your daily activities using different surveillance methods. Lifehacker reported that issues on police departments’ practices and policies have surfaced in recent weeks because of the reported police brutality, as well as their lack of accountability and surveillance. Your local police department might even conduct a surveillance activity while your neighborhood is sleeping soundly. Here’s a simple guide that can help you know exactly what methods these guys are using.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Reynold’s School of Journalism, the University of Nevada, created a project called the “Atlas Surveillance“. The new project provides a searchable database of police departments’ surveillance tools that are used across the country. You can use this website in two different ways; you can enter your city, county, or state in the search field or you can zoom in on your selected area to pull up the local police department you’re looking for in the text database.
Both of the methods provided, you can slim down your search by surveillance type;
- Automated license plate readers
- Ring/Neighbors partnership
- Body cameras
- Cell-site simulator
- Gunshot detection
- Camera registry
- Face recognition
- Video analytics/computer vision
- Predictive policing
This new project also allows people to check if the police are taking aerial footage with drones, using predictive policing tools to suggest where to look for crime, and even pulling surveillance video from Ring doorbell cams.
Lifehacker previously reported that some police departments might be using Ring doorbells to monitor neighborhood since Amazon confirmed in its blog post that it is working with law enforcement agencies. 405 different law enforcement agencies were detailed by Amazon; these police agencies are currently working with the company on the Neighbors Portal. It was claimed that the named law enforcement agencies might have requested for video recordings of different incidents from the people’s Ring doorbell. They were also accused of viewing and commenting on public posts.
“Real-time crime centers” and “fusion centers”, the hubs which law enforcement uses to analyze, gather, and share data, can be located using the Atlas Surveillance. Additional information about the surveillance technology that a police department favors can be pulled up on the website by entering the database or clicking a location on the map. You can also know if how long the police department is using the surveillance method, as well as how they partner or coordinate with other companies or organizations.
The website will allow you to toggle specific surveillance methods on and off across its map to see if the police departments are using these methods in concentrated activity, or if they are spreading the surveillance across the country. The Atlas Surveillance has a Glossary, which is located at the top of the page, for those users who are not knowledgeable when it comes to the surveillance tools used. The Glossary can be used to identify the photos and descriptions of the technology involved. However, if your police department is not included in the list of the website, that doesn’t mean that they are not practicing any surveillance method; this just means that the researchers of the new project were not able to collect the needed data yet.