The Los Angeles Police Department has asked its officers to collect social media information when interviewing, stopping, or otherwise interacting with civilians—even if they’re not accused of a crime, The Guardian reports. Public records first obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice and shared with the paper connect the procedure to a wider surveillance campaign. The LAPD’s social media data tactics, based on the Brennan Center’s findings, may just be the most comprehensive and intrusive in the country.
Copies of “field interview cards” that officers use to speak to civilians were obtained by the Brennan Center, showing that the police are required to record not only a person’s biographical data but also social media information like their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter handles. “Social media accounts” were first added as a section on the field interview cards in 2015.
An internal memo revealed the department’s chief, Michel Moore, explained the data gathering was necessary for “investigations, arrests, and prosecutions.” Supervisors will review cards regularly, he further warned employees. Field interview cards have proved controversial in the past, their usage having been entangled with accusations of racial profiling. “This is like stop and frisk,” Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition told The Guardian of the cards. “And this is happening with the clear goal of surveillance.”