Boston Police want $1.4 million to buy social media monitoring software

Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston City Council

The Boston Police Department has been quietly planning to spend up to $1.4 million of taxpayer money to purchase mass surveillance software that will allow them to constantly scan all of our social media and online activity, using it to target people for law enforcement action.

The program will operate without warrants, and will allow police to "geo-fence" certain neighborhoods or areas, a feature that will inevitably be abused to disproportionately spy on Boston's low-income communities of color, homeless population, and youth.

Officials have made no commitments to transparency surrounding the program, meaning they could use it for anything from monitoring a protest to busting up punk shows and house parties.

There is no evidence that this type of software has ever prevented a violent attack or made anyone safer, but plenty of research that shows that mass government surveillance programs have a profoundly chilling effect on freedom of expression and democracy.

Please sign the petition to Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston City Council. Then share it widely to sound the alarm about this serious threat to our civil liberties.

UPDATE: Read my response to the Boston Globe's misguided endorsement of this surveillance program here.

Petition by
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

To: Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston City Council
From: [Your Name]

"We don't want taxpayer money spent on spying software. Stop the Boston Police Department from purchasing this dangerous program."