Police Departments Work to Expand Capability to “Shut Down” Social Media

Police Departments worldwide are aggressively developing methods and policy to avail themselves of both the public relations and the Big Data resources of ‘social media,’ and adapting to social media platforms as environments for strategic and tactical intelligence.

“95.9 % of law enforcement agencies use social media, 86.1 % for investigative purposes,” said the head of the social media group for the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Sunday, at the organization’s 120th Annual meeting in Philadelphia. She also said that 81% report social media has successfully aided prosecutions, in a panel titled “Using Social Media as an Investigative Tool,”

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Slide from Power Point Presentation, Using Social Media as an Investigative Tool
Slide from Power Point Presentation, Using Social Media as an Investigative Tool

The US law enforcement industry has been rolling out a commensurate line-up product, and this was in great evidence at the  IACP conference exposition, which occupied the entirety of the 679,000 square foot Pennsylvania Convention Center Exhibit Hall floor this past week and weekend. Booths in the massive expo hall touted everything from wearable tactical gear to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems and full-sized helicopters.

From the Expo floor
From the Expo floor
Helicopter
Helicopter

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Increasingly in discussion in workshops held by and for top police executives from throughout the world (mostly US, Canada, and the United Kingdom, with others like Nigeria among a total of 13,000 representatives of the law enforcement community in town for the event),  and widely available from vendors, were technologies and department policies that allow agencies to block content, users, and even devices – for example, “Geofencing” software that allows departments to block service to a specified device when the device leaves an established virtual geographic perimeter. The capability is a basic function of advanced mobile technologies like smartphones, “OnStar” type features that link drivers through GIS to central assistance centers, and automated infrastructure and other hardware including unmanned aerial systems that must “sense and respond.”

SocioSpyder, for web-mining
SocioSpyder, for web-mining

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BrightPlanet, whose BlueJay software has been ubiquitous in the news as a law enforcement staple
BrightPlanet, whose BlueJay software has been ubiquitous in the news as a law enforcement staple
Surveillance Tower by FLIR, maker of NYPD's superstar SkyWatch
Surveillance Tower by FLIR, maker of NYPD’s superstar SkyWatch

Also, not yet reported in the press, a senior police officer from the Chicago PD told a panel on Monday that his department was working with Facebook’s security chief to block users’ from the site by account (person), IP, and device (he did not say if by UUID or MAC address or other means of hardware ID) if it is determined they have posted what is deemed criminal content. Facebook’s Joe Sullivan was scheduled to speak according to the original schedule for the panel “Helping Law Enforcement Respond to Mass Gatherings Spurred by Social Media,” but was unable to attend (also present: Edward Flynn, Chief of Police, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee, WI; Katherine McQuay, Assistant Director, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC; Chuck Wexler, Executive Director, Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, DC).

Updated: In my recording of the panel I was able to locate of the portion of the discussion, it was in the question and answer portion of the discussion and I unfortunately had turned my camera off for a moment, but what is on video makes the nature of the developing arrangement with Facebook more clear. See my post

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