It truly is no wonder that some citizens believe they live in a police state where their rights are constantly under scrutiny.Basic rights, as dictated by the Constitution in the United States, are under the scrutiny of abusive powers like the police and other groups.
One such group is Geofeedia, a data analytics group that was paid to monitor the social media of black protesters and submit data to police, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. An ACLU representative said that police had been monitoring various neighborhoods for signs of activity they may deem necessary upon which to act.
Geofeedia is, according to its website, a "location-based analytics platform" that has helped with the protection of citizens in major public safety logistical nightmares such as the Boston Marathon bombings and the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
In a message recently posted to its site, the company says that it will work with organizations, such as the ACLU, to assure the proper use of its software in order to protect the civil liberties of anyone and everyone.
This sounds totally believable, especially after Facebook, Twitter and Instagram cut Geofeedia's access to its data in the wake of the ACLU’s report.
These may have been the same agencies that said they would no longer provide user information to the NSA following the Edward Snowden leaks. They most likely were the same agencies, seeing as that promise was under the condition that the citizens avoid scrutinizing the continuing mass collection of their data.
It is a major collusion between police, social media and private companies that has unraveled in the most grotesque and unconstitutional manner. It is especially troublesome because it was carried out in such an obvious move against citizens.
Citizens, for that matter, have the right to protest unfair conditions in their country. The police response to these protests, however, have been almost automatic, whether it comes in the form of violence against the protesters or calculated efforts to track down their behavior.
Perhaps there is a baffling idea floating around that says that protesters would not meet such action from police if they simply stopped being a public nuisance. Protests, however, are not supposed to be comfortable; they are arduous, painful criticisms of flaws in republics.
The path to rebuilding the "trust with communities," a phrase that keeps being passed around like a baton between politicians nowadays, is to understand that when the body of power fails those communities, those same bodies of power will react, perhaps rather violently.
These immense bodies of power failed the families of every victim of unnecessary police violence and they have failed once more by literally asking for the information from the private lives of the very people they have sworn an oath to protect.
The signs for the future may be the most worrisome aspect of this report. Our lives have become littered in digital fingerprints to the point where social media platforms probably have the ability to disclose much more about an individual than any individual may want. The information might be used to do a lot of damage.
In their pursuit, the police do not simply turn to social media for information about where one hangs out with one’s friends last night or where one was born. The police are looking for someone they can track. They take the job with the expectation of finding someone who exhibits some kind of threat to a way of life to which they have accustomed. It may not end at the police; imagine the government being able to access the personal data of every citizen in the country.
The government was, in fact, able to access the private information of every citizen in the country three years ago in the widely publicized and legally problematic case of Snowden.
The U.S. government has evidently learned nothing from such blatant attacks on democracy. Local governments as well seem to have forgotten entirely that the NSA leak was a thing. It is curious to think about how long it will be before there is a leak of protester information, from personal addresses to whereabouts to times and dates of events.
Now imagine what would happen if that information was used by those less-than-accepting of calls for justice in the black community. Unfortunately, people like that are often much closer than one would hope.