Los Angeles The Police Department (LAPD) asks officers to collect information from social media accounts and email addresses when interviewing people they have detained, according to documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice of the NYU School of Law.
The Brennan Center has filed requests for public registrations with the LAPD and police departments in other major cities, noting among other things that “the LAPD requires its officers to widely collect social media account information from those in the area. ‘they meet in person using a Field Maintenance (FI) card’. The LAPD initially resisted the release of documents but provided over 6,000 pages after the Brennan Center continued the department.
One of these documents, a note at the time, LAPD chief Charlie Beck in May 2015 said that “when filling out an FI report, officers should request a person’s social media and email account information and include in the “Additional Information” box. This includes Twitter, Instagram or Facebook profiles, the memo reads.
This may be an unusual policy even though the LAPD has been doing it for years. “Apparently, nothing prevents agents from filling out FI forms for each interaction they perform on patrol”, wrote Mary Pat Dwyer, lawyer and member of the Freedom and National Security program at the Brennan Center. “Notably, our review of information on FI cards in 40 other cities did not reveal any other police department that uses the cards to collect data on social media, although details are scarce.” The center examined “publicly available documents to try to determine whether other police services regularly collect social media during interviews on the ground”, but found that “most are not very transparent about their practices” Dwyer told Ars on Friday.
While people may refuse to give agents their account details on social media, many people may be unaware of their rights and might feel pressured to provide the information, Dwyer told Ars. “The courts have found that arresting individuals and asking for voluntary information does not violate the Fourth Amendment and people are free not to respond,” she told us. “However, depending on the circumstances of a stop, people may not feel this freedom to walk away without responding. They may not know their rights, or they may hope to end the meeting quickly by providing information in order to make sure he doesn’t escalate you. “
The Brennan Center has also been researching Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington, DC Police Department records since January 2020, but is keep fighting to obtain all the requested information.
Data enables ‘large-scale surveillance’
A field interview is defined as “the brief detention of an individual, on foot or in a vehicle, on the basis of reasonable suspicion, for the purpose of determining the identity of the individual and resolving the suspicion of the individual. ‘agent for criminal activities’, according to an international association. police chiefs policy template for field interviews and palpation research. Field interview sheets can play an important role in investigations.
“These maps facilitate large-scale surveillance of the individuals they are collected from and their friends, family and associates, even those suspected of no crime,” Dwyer wrote. “Card information is entered in Palantir, a system whereby the LAPD aggregates data from a wide range of sources to increase its monitoring and analysis capabilities. “
Officers apparently have wide discretion in choosing who to record information about and, in some cases, have falsified the information entered. Last year, The Los Angeles Times find that “a division of the LAPD under surveillance for officers who allegedly forged field interview cards describing people as gang members played an inordinate role in the production of these cards.” The “metropolitan division of the LAPD accounted for about 4% of the force but accounted for more than 20% of the department’s field maintenance cards issued in a recent 18-month period,” the Times wrote. Police officers can fill out these cards “to document the encounters they have with anyone they question on their pace,” the report also said.