LAPD collects personal social media data of every citizen it interviews

Occurred: September 2021

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) collected the social media details of every citizen it interviewed, including people who had not been arrested or accused of a crime.

Thousands of documents obtained by non-profit organisation The Brennan Center for Justice revealed that LAPD officers must record a civilian’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts on 'field interview cards', alongside basic biographical information.

In a memo, LAPD police chief Michael Moore said interview cards would be reviewed by supervisors to ensure they are complete, so that they could later be used in 'investigations, arrests, and prosecutions'.

The findings raised concerns about civil rights and mass surveillance without justification, as well as potential privacy abuse. The LAPD told the Guardian that the field interview card policy was being updated, but 'declined to provide further details.'

The documents had come to light after the LAPD refused to hand over documents in a records request filed by The Brennan Center and was sued.

Operator: Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
Developer: Geofeedia; Dataminr
Country: USA
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Monitor individuals
Technology: Social media monitoring
Issue: Human/civil rights; Privacy; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Legal

Freedom of information requests 

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: September 2021
Last updated: June 2024