20 March 2016

Why Law Enforcement Data Dragnets Are a Wicked Bad Idea, Part 95

In Denver, it has been revealed that police have been using law enforcement databases for personal purposes, including helping friends stalk their exes.

Rather unsurprisingly, no police officers have received any meaningful discipline for that behavior:
Denver police officers performed searches on state and federal criminal justice databases that were not work-related and instead were made to help officers' in the romance department and to assist friends, according to an independent department monitor. The report said that punishment, usually a written reprimand instead of being charged criminally, is not enough to deter future abuse of the National Crime information Center (NCIC) and the Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC) databases.

"When used appropriately, they can be powerful tools to investigate crime," the report stated. "But the misuse of these databases for personal, non-law enforcement purposes may compromise public trust and result in harm to community members. We believe that the reprimands that are generally imposed on DPD (Denver Police Department) officers who misuse the databases do not reflect the seriousness of that violation, and may not sufficiently deter future misuse."

The report by Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell listed a host of wrongful searches, including an officer getting a phone number of a woman he met on assignment, and an officer running the license plate of a man for a friend who then stalked that person. None of the 25 Denver officers who abused the crime databases were charged with any access crime. The harshest penalty was a three-day suspension. Civilians who accessed the databases without authorization, however, most likely would be charged with hacking.

There's been reports across the country of officers wrongly accessing criminal justice records for their personal use, sometimes resulting in criminal punishment. And sometimes police officers abuse the database to troll their own. In 2012, for example, Minneapolis paid out $1 million to a former female police officer whose driver's license record was looked up more than 400 times by fellow officers.
I would bet dollars to navy beans that the suspensions were of the paid variety.

We saw the exactly the same thing with the NSA.

This is what happens when the authorities have access to your data.  They abuse that access for their personal benefit.

This is why the bulk collection of data by the state security apparatus is so toxic.


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