State Cops Accidentally Out Their Surveillance Of Anti-Police Groups With Browser Screenshot

from the 'intel-techniques,'-indeed dept

A little opsec goes a long way. The Massachusetts State Police -- one of the most secretive law enforcement agencies in the nation -- gave readers of its Twitter feed a free look at the First Amendment-protected activities it keeps tabs on… by uploading a screenshot showing its browser bookmarks.

Alex Press of Jacobin Magazine was one of the Twitter users to catch the inadvertent exposure of MSP operations.

If you can't read/see the tweet, it says:

the MA staties just unintentionally tweeted a photo that shows their bookmarks include a whole number of Boston’s left-wing orgs

The tweet was quickly scrubbed by the MSP, but not before other Twitter users had grabbed screenshots. Some of the activist groups bookmarked by the state police include Mass. Action Against Police Brutality, the Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump, and Resistance Calendar.

Here's a closer look at the bookmarks.

The MSP did not deny they keep (browser) tabs on protest organizations. Instead, it attempted to portray this screen of left-leaning bookmarks as some sort of non-partisan, non-cop-centric attempt to keep the community safe by being forewarned and forearmed.

We have a responsibility to know about all large public gatherings of any type and by any group, regardless of their purpose and position, for public safety reasons.

Ok. But mainly these groups? The ones against police brutality and the back-the-blue President? Seems a little one-sided for an "of any type and by any group" declaration.

The statement continues in the same defensive vein for a few more sentences, basically reiterating the false conceit that cops don't take sides when it comes to activist groups and the good people of Massachusetts are lucky to have such proactive public servants at their disposal.

Whatever. If it wasn't a big deal, the MSP wouldn't have vanished the original tweet into the internet ether. The screenshot came from a "fusion center" -- one of those DHS partnerships that results in far more rights violations and garbage "see something, say something" reports than "actionable intelligence". Fusion centers are supposed to be focused on terrorism, not on people who don't like police brutality or the current Commander in Chief.

What this looks like is probably what it is: police keeping tabs on people they don't like or people who don't like them. That's not really what policing is about and it sure as hell doesn't keep the community any safer.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 3:39pm

    Obviously, we need to get the government involved in this kind of political bias situation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:48pm

      Re:

      Way to make like of the actual bias going on...against the right. If you can joke about it, you can pretend it's not actually happening.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Targeting groups by the police for 1st Amendment activities is a bias that is actually illegal. Some platform eliminating someone for violating their Terms of Service is not illegal.

        Along that line, I think if the so called left behaved as egregiously as the so called right, they would be banned as well. Note the trend? Kicked off for egregious behavior, not point of view.

        So the moral of the story is, tell your far (label) wing brethren to follow the TOS and to state their minds in more respectful ways and they will maintain their status on platforms.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 5:17pm

        I apologize if I offended anyone. Mistakes were made; I acknowledge fault where such acknowledgment is appropriate. Please accept my expression of deep regret about your emotional reaction to my joke.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 5:36pm

          Re:

          Somehow, concern about how the 'obtusely woke' worry about their current feelz seems about as significant as that ant crossing ones path in the woods would be to ones travels.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2018 @ 12:12am

        Re: Re:

        make like of

        Well there's a new one for the "Taken for Granite" copypasta

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:47am

        Re: Re:

        OMG - no .. not actual bias!!!!!

        There is bias everywhere, whether you acknowledge it or not - it is there.

        Just look at your own bias resulting in your proclamation of one sided bias when in fact it is ubiquitous.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:01pm

    Speaking of disapearing

    Tweets are not the only things some police forces are causing to disappear. How about evidence, as in communications that is used in developing cases. A report from Al Jazeera suggests that at least one department is using a messaging app called Tiger Text that causes the message to disappear after some set time. Presumably some of these texts would be appropriate discovery in Brady material, but will never be available. The app is on phones distributed by the department. Oh how open our LEO's are.

    Back to the instant story. The fact that they took down the tweet does not preclude the fact that the tweet existed, especially when screenshots have been taken. I am not sure when those screenshots will appear as evidence of some charge of misbehavior by the MSP, but I am wagering 5 Internets that they will. I would guess at what those charges might be, but it seems to me that there are a variety of possibilities available, and I wouldn't want to miss any.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:12pm

      Define 'open'

      Oh how open our LEO's are.

      Oh but they are. Openly corrupt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:47pm

      Disappearing Inc

      Disappearing Inc was a 90s-era response to the permanent record that email communications left, and was one of the early services that made emails unreadable after its expiration date.

      It didn't do so well. Clerks simply got into the habit of printing out emails or transferring the plaintext to permanent files for sake of records. It was a tedious addition to their regular duties.

      It's not to say that they don't have use, but it is curious that law enforcement would want their own correspondences to vanish yet want access to everything their suspects ever thought and did.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:24pm

    Infinity facepalm - any time you take a browser screenshot, the first thing you do after taking it is crop it down to the screenshotted page itself - this is common sense 101, FFS! It's ludicrously compromising to leave your bookmarks in plain view, regardless of what exactly they are. And, yeah, not particularly nice in this particular case...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:41pm

    F11 before screen-cap is your friend.

    What impresses me is that the Massachusetts State Police online investigators don't know this.

    So not only are they engaging in extracurricular investigative activities but are really bad at it.

    (F11 works on most browsers and quite a few productivity applications. It may not work on all of them.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 5:06pm

      Re: F11 before screen-cap is your friend.

      What impresses me is that the Massachusetts State Police online investigators don't know this.

      ...it surprises you that somebody who takes screenshots by pointing a phone at their computer monitor doesn't know what the F11 key does?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 5:19pm

        To be fair, I’m surprised someone in a police department knows how to use a phone camera. They’re usually trying to shut them off, not turn them on.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:46pm

        Pointing a phone at the monitor

        Wait...they don't know about ctrl-printscreen or the freaking Snipping Tool?

        Are these people still in the 1990s?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 1:51am

          Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

          Erm, ctrl-print screen existed in the 90s too. As did people who didn't know how to use a computer so came up with all sorts of hilarious workarounds that actually made their work harder.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 10:17am

          Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

          You're...not in tech support, retail, or any other job where you interact with end users, are you.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:46pm

            Re: Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

            At my workplace, even the people who do understand Ctrl+PrintScreen tend to send the resulting picture along by pasting it into a Word document and attaching that document to an E-mail.

            It should be nearly as easy to paste it into MS Paint, save it, and attach the result - but of course they aren't used to using MS Paint, and they are used to using MS Word.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 12:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

              That also used to wind me up a lot, thankfully I'm now working for a small company with a relatively tech savvy group of people. I'm sure my career will take me back into trenches at some point, though...

              "It should be nearly as easy to paste it into MS Paint, save it, and attach the result"

              Even easier just to paste it into the body of the email ;)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 5:02am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

                Even easier just to paste it into the body of the email ;)

                That only works if you're either using HTML or otherwise "rich-text" E-mail, or have an E-mail client that's smart enough to detect the paste and turn it into an attachment (including turning the raw image data into a suitable file format, rather than just attaching whatever form your OS happens to use for PrintScreen output).

                The former is an abomination that should never have been created and should never be used; E-mail is and should always remain plain text with optional attachments, full stop. (Yes, clearly, this is personal - and significantly minority - opinion...)

                As far as I'm aware, I've never actually run across an E-mail client that supported the latter, except perhaps as a special case of supporting the former.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 5:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

                  True, I was making the assumption that most such people would be using Outlook and not be forced to use plain HTML. Such is the typical setup.

                  I dare say that forcing such users to stick to plain unformatted text will be more problematic than having to explain to them yet again why they should be pasting an image into an image editor rather than a word processor...

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2018 @ 10:18am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Pointing a phone at the monitor

                That's nothing. I've had users take a screenshot, paste it in word, print that word document out on 8.5" x 11" paper, scan that paper back into their computer as a pdf, then attach that pdf to an email and send it.

                And in at least one case, instead of attaching and emailing the pdf at that point, they opened the pdf, took another screenshot, then just pasted that screenshot right into the email.

                Result? They spent probably 20 - 30 minutes just trying to get a screenshot to me, and once it finally did get to me, it was so badly garbled and degraded from all the format changes that it was barely readable.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 6:04pm

    Simple question...

    What do they use TinEye for?

    [Posted by DocGerbil100, who can't be arsed any more with having to sign in every single fucking time. You're in an attention-over-time economy, TechDirt. Please, kindly stop deliberately wasting all of ours.]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 6:13pm

      Re: Simple question...

      Not sure what TinEye is, I don't see it referenced in the article. Is it in one of the links?

      BTW, you do know you can check a box on your account page that keeps you signed in. You will need to set your browser to save the cookie and your password. But when I clear my browser info I don't clear passwords (I only save this one), I just sign in again, all my info is there and I just have to click sign in. The only other time I lose my signed in status is when my browser (Chromium) updates, but it just takes two clicks (sign in and then sign in again on the next page) and I remain signed in until the next time the browser updates, or I clear my Internet history stuff.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ryuugami, 20 Sep 2018 @ 12:08am

        Re: Re: Simple question...

        TinEye is a reverse image search engine. As in, you give it an image (or an image link) and it tries to find where on the internet that image appears, possibly resized and/or cropped (Google Image Search has the same capability). It's visible in the first photo, second bookmark from the right.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 8:29am

          Re: Re: Re: Simple question...

          They probably use TinEye as a poor man's facial recognition. I would totally believe they take surveillance photos and run them through image search to see if someone similar turns up somewhere else.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 1:54am

      Re: Simple question...

      "[Posted by DocGerbil100, who can't be arsed any more with having to sign in every single fucking time. You're in an attention-over-time economy, TechDirt. Please, kindly stop deliberately wasting all of ours.]"

      Erm, you do realise that typing that took several times longer than signing in would have done, right?

      Not to mention, it's not Techdirt's fault if you chose to refuse their cookie to remember your login between sessions and the option in your browser to save the password so that you don't have to type it in every time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2018 @ 4:58am

        Re: Re: Simple question...

        >Erm, you do realise that typing that took several times longer than signing in would have done, right?

        Yes, but I only had to type it once to make my point.

        The cookie's set to expire after what subjectively seems like a few weeks. A poster adding comments every few days probably won't notice the sign-in frequency.

        I, on the other hand, am only posting every now and then, as the mood strikes me. As such, I have to sign in almost every time. I'm directly incentivised to ignore the account mechanics and post as AC, instead.

        None of the other sites I use seem to be this aggressive about making me repeatedly sign in, apart from the ones dealing with secure information, such as banks and government services, where it's understandable.

        What actual security problem is TechDirt trying to solve by making it easier and more convenient to ignore my registered account?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 5:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Simple question...

          "Yes, but I only had to type it once to make my point."

          But, now you've wasted even more time complaining about it. How many keystrokes have you made in the complaint thus far, compared to the keystrokes taken to enter your login details, assuming they're not already saved?

          As for the rest of your comment, what you're whining about is that you have to log into a website at intervals of several weeks or more. TBH, I'm not even sure I'd notice that I kept having to do that, and there's plenty of websites I'm a semi-regular visitor to that I have to log back into occasionally.

          I've never decided to rant about needing to do that unless it was every 10 minutes or something silly (and even then it would be more likely a corrupted cookie somewhere that's easily fixed by deleting them rather than having a go at the site).

          "What actual security problem is TechDirt trying to solve by making it easier and more convenient to ignore my registered account?"

          What actual security problem are you avoiding by not telling your browser to save the login details, so you only have to click once to log back in?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2018 @ 6:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Simple question...

            To paraphrase your post, by paragraph...

            <quote from my post>

            <irrelevant and plainly misleading rhetorical question>

            <largely irrelevant personal comparison>

            <ditto>

            <quote of my question>

            <question that answers itself, yet somehow fails to either convincingly reply to or answer my question in any way at all>

            ... PaulIT, it is my most genuine and sincere hope that you one day go into politics. The Republican Party will love you. Quite possibly in the Biblical sense.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2018 @ 4:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Simple question...

              So, again, by whining you've not only wasted far more time and effort than the thing you were whining about to begin with, but have now resorted to personal attacks instead of trying to justify your original mistake.

              "The Republican Party will love you."

              Yeah, they're well known for their love of British liberals who live in Spanish speaking countries... You can't even make your attempts at insults make sense.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:34pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Simple question...

                <OP wanders in>
                <Looks at lazy troll>
                <Decides he can't be arsed>

                Have a nice day. :)

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:14pm

    In related news, Tim is disappointed he/Techdirt are not amongst the bookmarks. Why is this even news? Who cares what bookmarks they have? Watching something publicly available on Facebook, et al, is not even close to "surveillance" in a legal sense. Am I surveilling public transport because I have some timetables and status update pages bookmarked?
    Come back and complain when you find illegal wiretaps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:28pm

      Re:

      Where there is smoke there is usually fire. What would the legitimate reasons for the MSP to have these groups bookmarked and their headquarter locations noted?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 1:58am

      Re:

      "Watching something publicly available on Facebook, et al, is not even close to "surveillance" in a legal sense."

      Nobody said it did, only that they've accidentally publicly announced who they're interested in closely following, and that some things can be derived from that information.

      You know, you'd waste a lot less time raging impotently if you read what people actually said rather than making it up in your head as you go along.

      "Come back and complain when you find illegal wiretaps."

      They do. What do you pointlessly whine about on those articles?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:21pm

    Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

    I mean, they're public websites. Usually the people who put up web sites want readers.

    There seems to be a lot of jumping to conclusions here. For all we know, whoever sits at that computer in the MA State Police could just be a leftie enthusiast.

    Sure, it's possible (indeed, likely) that they're reading it to keep an eye on potential violent protests.

    Isn't that what we pay them for? What exactly is the complaint?

    (If the issue is bias, as a MA resident, I can assure you there simply aren't any right-wing groups here large enough to qualify as a mob.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:40pm

      Re: Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

      Is there a legitimate legal reason for the state police to keep an eye on anyone for 1st Amendment activity? Now if all of those groups regularly participated in violent actions, then maybe. Do you know of any such violent actions by any of those groups? No? Then one must wonder about an increase of attention by law enforcement.

      By the same token, there is a certain amount of surveillance of us all by various government agencies, both local and national, are you really OK with that? What is the legitimate purpose of that? National security? Are you a threat? If not, and I believe that you are not, they why would the government be looking over your shoulder? Is a surveillance state really OK? Is increased surveillance of group that isn't directly involved with violence OK?

      Every indication of government overreach should be taken seriously, and acted upon. The preferred method is speech, as happened here, but there are other methods. Do we want to get there, or use enough speech to make other methods unnecessary?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:48pm

      The complaint is that the police department in this story seems to have focused its attention only on groups with a specific set of political beliefs. Now those groups know that the police are watching them; with the observer effect being what it is, those groups will now act differently. If they were engaged only in legally-protected political dissent, the knowledge of being watched by police could chill them from further dissent.

      Anyone who thinks they are a “champion of free speech” should be horrified at the idea of the police watching one type of political group more than others for what appears to be no reason other than political ideology. This situation would be no better if it were about the California State Police and a toolbar full of bookmarks for pro-Trump groups.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 5:36am

      Re: Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

      Thank you - well said.

      You're addressing the part of the article I had a problem with as well;

      "What this looks like is probably what it is: police keeping tabs on people they don't like or people who don't like them. That's not really what policing is about and it sure as hell doesn't keep the community any safer."

      OF COURSE they keep tabs on people (and groups) that "don't like them", and that "they don't like".

      It's common sense. Now if the sites they had bookmarked were along the lines of "Grandmas Who Knit" and "Boston Beagle Society", paranoia would have me thinking those groups are covers for illegal activities.

      Why? Because cops watch for TROUBLE spots. That they have a pile of bookmarks of sites which basically boil down to "We Hate the Police!" and "We Hate Trump" should actually be lauded, not lambasted - they're looking at potential trouble spots. Trouble as in "illegal, possibly violent", not trouble as "We need to violate these civil rights".

      As to the Terrorism link, YES. Because under the last three Presidents, the legal definition of "Terrorist" has been expanded to the point where it almost covers Jaywalking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re: Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

        "That they have a pile of bookmarks of sites which basically boil down to "We Hate the Police!" and "We Hate Trump" should actually be lauded, not lambasted "

        Have these groups been seen to be doing anything other than saying such things, or is there an actual reason why they're being singled out over and above anti-liberal, anti-Clinton, etc. groups?

        If the group named "Mass. Action Against Police Brutality" isn't doing anything other than attempting to stop police brutality, you can possibly see why it's not a good look for them to be singling that group out, for example.

        "Trouble as in "illegal, possibly violent", not trouble as "We need to violate these civil rights"."

        All they have to do is claim the former, and that gives them licence to do the latter. Which they have presumably already been doing, hence one reason these groups exist to begin with.

        "As to the Terrorism link, YES. Because under the last three Presidents, the legal definition of "Terrorist" has been expanded to the point where it almost covers Jaywalking."

        To be honest, "hey, the last guys expanded definitions to cover pretty much anyone so it's fine if we abuse those powers" isn't a particularly flattering position.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

          Re: the "terrorism" comment.

          To be honest, it's a FACT that it's been dramatically expanded, mainly under obama.

          I don't agree with the expansion - "terrorism" *used* to have a very narrow definition, and was rarely prosecuted, other than the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy hobgoblin under clinton, when it appeared everyone who had ever even seen a gun on TV was a member of a "militia".

          They're watching the PUBLIC POSTINGS of left-wing sites for a simple reason. Trump WON. If she'd won, they'd be watching right-wing sites. It's a cycle.

          They're not "investigating" the groups (per this article), they're monitoring their web pages. If that's illegal, both you and I should be prosecuted for "monitoring" techdirt.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

            "To be honest, it's a FACT that it's been dramatically expanded, mainly under obama."

            I do wonder why you feel the need to stress a particular president when you admit it's been happening for many years. I also wonder if that's actually true - did he actually expand them more compared to how they were expanded in the aftermath of 9/11?

            "They're watching the PUBLIC POSTINGS of left-wing sites for a simple reason. Trump WON."

            Is there typically a rise in "left-wing" (by American standards) violence when a Republican wins, or some other notable reason to keep tabs on them in this way?

            It is interesting how you're fixated on the one group that mentions Trump, however, and not the ones that are either broader or specifically against abuse from police.

            "If she'd won, they'd be watching right-wing sites. It's a cycle."

            Judging by a lot of recent activity they should really be keeping an eye on them anyway. A lot of white supremacists and other fringe groups appear to have been growing bolder since the election.

            That's kind of the point - they should be focussing on both "sides", but only appear to be focussing on one. If there's a valid reason for the bias, that's fine, but it's worth questioning why it's there.

            "If that's illegal"

            Has anyone claimed it was, or are you just trying to erect strawmen to demolish?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 10:17am

            To be honest

            If you were truly an honest person, you would have no need to say this. Now everything you say is suspect. To wit:

            it's a FACT that [the definitions of “terrorism” and “terrorist” have] been dramatically expanded, mainly under obama

            The first part of that sentence is relatively true, though you would help your case more if you provided some evidence. The second is true only if you can provide the proof; otherwise, it is an unfounded assertion.

            They're watching the PUBLIC POSTINGS of left-wing sites for a simple reason. Trump WON. If she'd won, they'd be watching right-wing sites. It's a cycle.

            Yes, certain groups with certain political beliefs tend to see more activity when the politicians they oppose win an election. But a certain politician’s political party and a certain group’s political leanings are not enough, on their own, to suspect that group of criminal activity.

            They're not "investigating" the groups (per this article), they're monitoring their web pages. If that's illegal, both you and I should be prosecuted for "monitoring" techdirt.

            The police choosing to investigate/monitor “left-wing” groups because those groups expressed political dissent may not be technically illegal, but it is ethically and morally suspect (at best). Unless the police have evidence that those groups have committed crimes (or have planned to do so), those groups should not be monitored because of legally protected speech—no matter how insulted the cops feel.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 10:21am

        Re: Re: Is reading public web pages "survellience"?

        Why? Because cops watch for TROUBLE spots. That they have a pile of bookmarks of sites which basically boil down to "We Hate the Police!" and "We Hate Trump" should actually be lauded, not lambasted - they're looking at potential trouble spots. Trouble as in "illegal, possibly violent", not trouble as "We need to violate these civil rights".

        Are you arguing that groups that are illegal exist disproportionately in one section of the political spectrum? That, for example, people who criticize police and the president are likelier to create dangerous situations than people who praise the police and the president?

        Do you suppose they had a similar set of bookmarks for critics of the president when the president was Obama?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:04pm

    No, but it will keep the police 'safer' as far right groups tend to be fascists which promote the infallibility of state organs and therefore tend to directly support strong police presence and actions. (This is the perception, not the actuality.)

    To me it shows the deeply entrenched "us versus them" mentality of police here in the US. If you're not with us, you're against us. I see the same thing often espoused by retired police and corrections officers that I come in contact with. Always with ready excuses for their fellows in blue to the point of twisting facts, opinions, and perceptions into pretzels.

    That guy in Missouri that drown in police custody? "Shouldn't have jumped overboard." Harassing addicts that have or are trying to clean up? "They're undoubtedly using again!" Someone's gone missing? "Round up the usual suspects! (sex offenders)" Guy shot in the back with his hands in the air? "Shouldn't have run off!" People repeatedly tased while restrained? "Shouldn't have been struggling!" Stopping blacks and hispanics in poorer neighborhoods that are not breaking the law? "You know they were up to know good anyway."

    I get it that the police are constantly in danger of losing their lives, but cases like these and making excuses for repeated violations of basic dignity and rights does nothing to help their case. All it does is turn society at large against the police and even the communities where there may be little to no known rights violations and general corruption, you have the populace turning more suspicious and less willing to turn to the police when there really is a crime committed for fear of their dignity, property, or even their life.

    Less cynical reaction:
    But, let's face it, this particular case is a non-issue. There's nothing inherently wrong with the police keeping tabs on any particular group either officially or unofficially by reading their PUBLIC website. The police have a fundamental interest in knowing what's going on in the community they're policing so they know what they're facing when they're called to any particular site for any given reason. They also have a reason to watch anti-establishment or anti-police group information for clues if a particular group is about to become "radicalized"... that is start advocating active resistance and/or violence.

    In this case, tempest meet teapot.

    So long as they aren't actively interfering with these groups' rights of lawful expression, they can watch them all they want. Maybe they'll actually take some of the (constructive) criticism to heart!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:14pm

      Re:

      If you really think the MSP are only keeping tabs on the public websites of these groups then you are delusional. Why would they have their headquarter locations marked? Why only these groups. Why not other groups?

      There is an agenda here. It is not stated, but one certainly exists, otherwise their bookmarks would be for a larger variety of groups, not just ones like 'Action Against Police Brutality', or the 'Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump', or 'Resistance Calendar'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 6:20am

      Re:

      "They also have a reason to watch anti-establishment or anti-police group information for clues if a particular group is about to become "radicalized"... that is start advocating active resistance and/or violence."

      They have the same reason to watch other groups as well, but they chose to concentrate on these ones. Are they more likely to become violent - or just more likely to oppose the cops when they do it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      >They also have a reason to watch anti-establishment or anti-police group information for clues if a particular group is about to become "radicalized"... that is start advocating active resistance and/or violence.

      The public should have a similar website to watch the Blue Line Gang (police) for the same reason.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JT, 20 Sep 2018 @ 12:28am

    I think the title of this article is wrong

    The groups being targeted are not "anti-police" - they are anti-police-violence, and anti-police-overreach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:42am

    To serve and protect...

    themselves and the government from dissent. Because they are the infallible saintly good guys and anyone who disagrees with them are by default evil criminals and terrorists. By security, they mean *their* security; by safety, they mean *their* safety from the people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 20 Sep 2018 @ 6:59pm

    Surveillance State USA

    That's not really what policing is about and it sure as hell doesn't keep the community any safer.

    But it is what a police state is about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    D Bunker, 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:57pm

    Just reveals your prejudices and paranoia. In contrast, I'm...

    ... inclined to bet that most police in Massachusetts keep tabs open to monitor "leftist" groups because in favor.

    It's at least possible that is another (actually LESS innocent) explanation. But minion and comments above have only one perspective. I've never run across a site with more uniform, er, anti-uniform, anarchist views than Techdirt. Masnick, minions, fanboys, and especially the astro-turfing have less variety than the old Soviet Politburo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 6:45am

      I'm inclined to bet that most police in Massachusetts keep tabs open to monitor "leftist" groups because in favor.

      Prove it.

      I've never run across a site with more uniform, er, anti-uniform, anarchist views than Techdirt.

      Have you ever seen an actual anarchist’s blog? Techdirt is far, far more conservative in comparison.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Coles (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 6:57am

    It would be silly to not keep an eye of the groups

    Why is it a surprise that the groups are under scrutiny? Sure, poor security in posting the bookmarks, but it would be foolish to not monitor them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 7:54am

      Unless you—or the police—have proof that anyone in any of those groups has done or said something beyond legally protected political dissent, none of those groups deserve to be “monitored” any more than groups that are pro-Trump/pro-police (brutality).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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