Inside the app, Minnesota police used to collect data on journalists at protests

The brave response allows officers to collect data that can be analyzed in a variety of ways, and our investigation has found that officers have created watch lists of protest participants. love. The Minnesota Consolidation Center has access to facial recognition technology through the Homeland Security Information Network, a secure network already used in the Operations Safety Network. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (another OSN member agency) also uses investigative imaging technology, another term for facial recognition.

This kind of informal multi-agency coordination encourages ‘shopping by policy’, said Jake Wiener, a member of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. and an expert on fusion centers and counter-monitoring. “That means overall there’s more surveillance, less surveillance, and more risk of political harassment or arrest.” Furthermore, Intrepid can provide “a forum where multiple agencies can contribute, but none is responsible for monitoring and auditing,” making it “ripe for abuse.”

It’s not clear where the personal data of Duggan and other journalists went after the Minnesota State Patrol shared it via Intrepid Response. Gordon Shank, a public information officer with the Minnesota State Patrol, said the photos were accessible to the Minnesota Consolidation Center and the Department of Natural Resources through Intrepid Response. The Minnesota State Patrol eventually stored the photos as PDFs in an electronic directory owned by the agency. Shank also said that no analysis was run on the photos and that they have not been removed because of pending litigation.

An “extremely disturbing” incident

On the night of April 16, police took pictures of Duggan’s face, body, and media. Information accompanying the images includes the coordinates of the location where the photos were taken, a timestamp and a map of the nearby area. Sokotoff’s file, also dated April 16, 2021, contains the same data in a similar format in addition to an image of his state identification card.

The police used their phones to take a photo of the journalist's badge
JD Duggan took this photo while the police were taking pictures of journalists.


Duggan and other witnesses say several dozen journalists were involved in the cataloging activity. We have independently confirmed that six journalists were photographed in the same manner as Duggan, and they all referred to the incident as relevant. Many said they asked officers why their data was being collected and where it was being stored, but officers declined to answer.

“We did not commit a crime, but records are kept on us. I believe this is a step in the direction of authoritarianism and has a terrifying impact on the free press,” said Chris Taylor, a freelancer representing the Minneapolis Television Network who has photographed by the Minnesota State Patrol. “It’s against the ethos of being American.”

Sokotoff, a student photojournalist at the University of Michigan, also directly tweeted the incident. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen and is incredibly unsettling,” he said.

All of the cases appear to have been initiated by the Minnesota State Patrol, which recently settled a lawsuit regarding the treatment of journalists during protests. On April 17, more than 25 media companies, including local radio stations Minnesota Public Radio and Star Tribune as well as the New York Times, Gannett, Associated Press and Fox/UTC Holdings, signed a letter. sent a letter to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz; that same day, a temporary restraining order was issued to the Minnesota State Patrol. The state patrol reacts publicly via a press release issued by Operation Safety Net, which states that officers “photographed journalists and their credentials and driver’s licenses at the scene to expedite the identification process.” … The process was undertaken in response to concerns the media expressed last year about timing. identified and released the journalists. ”

Parker Higgins, advocacy director for the Free Press Foundation which is investigating the incident, said the tactic “doesn’t appear to serve any law enforcement purpose other than to intimidate reporters doing their job. their job. “And now, almost a year later, there are still no clear answers as to why the photos were taken, how the images were shared or stored, and whether that data is still in the database. law enforcement or not.”

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