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Minnesota Cops Use Contact Tracing to Track Protestor Networks

According to Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, officials in the state have been using contact-tracing to map protestor affiliations and movements. This has led officials to conclude that much of the protest activity is being fueled by people from the “outside coming in.” Harrington was circumspect about which apps or processes commonly used for contact-tracing are now being used against protestors, though a Twitter feed titled “Minnesota Contact Tracing,” which has been leaking police activities, did specify that officials are contact-tracing arrestees.

This is just the latest tool of big tech to be deployed against law-abiding citizens. Minneapolis Police and the Minnesota Fusion Center have also been employing other well-known tech to track citizens. Briefcam, Ring doorbell cameras, Axon police bodycams, ShotSpotter, and license plate readers collect hundreds of thousands of hours of video footage that is analyzed by software such as Clearview AI to identify individuals through facial recognition algorithms.

CCTV footage is also now being fed through Arxys Milestone software, which uses “video motion detection” and “video analytics” to identify and build profiles about citizens.

This means that every time you leave your house, your neighbor’s Ring doorbell adds this bit of data to your “profile.” When you drive or take public transit, police can identify where you work and which route(s) you take to get there. Any time you buy something, or literally do anything online, this gets added to your profile. Where you eat, worship, or go to the doctor is now readily available.

Police can also request “geofence warrants,” which ID anyone who walked into a specified area, such as a protest location, and get info about what they post to social media during this time.

When you add these tools to a willingness by (some) police to extrajudicially target citizens, especially minorities, and most police organizations and unions to justify this as just another way to keep us “safe,” a truly frightening picture emerges. Whether nationwide protests will have any impact on these surveillance activities in the future is yet to be written. 


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