"Informing You Without Watching you."  @digitalprivacy, Fri 07/22:
Police Are Still Abusing Investigative Exemptions to Shield Surveillance Tech, While Others Move Towards Transparency

When it comes to acceptable levels of secrecy around police tools, states have drawn their lines in very different places, resulting in some communities where it is much harder for the public to know what invasive tools are being used. This variance has impacted EFF’s ability to catalog known uses of CSS and other surveillance equipment across the United States in the Atlas of Surveillance. Their work demonstrated how departments across the country provide a range of responses to community members interested in how they’re being surveilled. Because the agencies were already known to have purchased the tech, it was a fair assumption they would have responsive materials. Some students received dozens of records and others nothing at all. Despite a mandated five-day period in which the Sheriff could respond, after five months, no acknowledgment of the request has been provided at all. Another California law requires law enforcement using cell-site simulators (CSS) to locate and track people’s cell phones to post their policies online. But in Virginia, that same information can be withheld entirely from public view. The exact outlines of the exemption vary from state to state, but in general, the exemption claims that an agency does not have to be transparent about certain methods of investigation it uses, lest the disclosure of the records provide enough information for wanted and potential criminals to evade the law.

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