Inside the app Minnesota police use collect data on journalists at protests

Intrapid Response allows officers to collect data that can be analyzed in a number of ways and our investigation found that officers were compiling a watch list of people participating in the protest. The Minnesota Fusion Center has access to facial recognition technology through the Homeland Security Information Network, a secure network that was used during Operation Safety Net. The Hannepin County Sheriff’s Office (another OSN member agency) also uses what it refers to as investigative imaging technology, another term for facial recognition.

“This kind of informal multi-agency integration promotes” policy shopping, “where at least an agency with restricted privacy rules can oversee what other agencies cannot,” says Jack Winner, an associate at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. And specializes in fusion centers and protest surveillance. “That means more oversight, less oversight and more risk of harassment or political arrest overall.” Further, Intrapid “provides a forum where multiple agencies can contribute, but no agency is responsible for monitoring and auditing,” making it “appropriate for abuse.”

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Gordon Schenk, Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer, said the photos were accessible to the Minnesota Fusion Center and the Department of Natural Resources through an intrapid response. Minnesota State Patrol eventually stored the photos as PDFs in an agency-owned electronic folder. Shank also says that no analysis was performed on the photos, and that they have not yet been deleted due to pending claims.

An “extremely worrying” event

On the night of April 16, police took photographs of Duggan’s face, full body and media credentials. Information with images includes coordinates of the location where the photos were taken, a time stamp and a map of the immediate area. Socotoff’s file, dated April 16, 2021, contains identical data in the same format in addition to images of his state identity card.

A police officer uses a cell phone to carry a journalist's badge
JD Duggan took the photo while police were posing with reporters.

JD Duggan

Duggan and other eyewitnesses say several dozen journalists were involved in the listed activity. We have independently confirmed that six journalists posed for the same photo as Duggan and all of them attributed the incident. Many said they asked officials why their data was being collected and where it was being stored, but officials declined to comment.

“It simply came to our notice then. I believe this is a step towards dictatorship, and it has a chilling effect on the free press, “said Chris Taylor, a freelancer working for the Minneapolis Television Network, who was photographed by the Minnesota State Patrol. “It’s against the principle of being American.”

Sokotof, also a student photojournalist at the University of Michigan Live-tweeted the event“It was the opposite of everything I saw and it was very disturbing,” he says.

All of the incidents appear to have been initiated by the Minnesota State Patrol, which recently settled a lawsuit over its conduct with reporters during a protest. On April 17, more than 25 media companies, including local outlets Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune, as well as the New York Times, Gannett, Associated Press, and Fox / UTC Holdings, signed the letter to Minnesota Governor Tim Wallace. ; On the same day, a temporary ban was issued on the Minnesota State Patrol. The state patrol responded publicly to a press release issued by Operation Safety Net, stating that officers “photographed journalists and their credentials and driver’s licenses at the scene to expedite the identification process … about the time it took journalists to identify and release.” . “

The strategy “serves no law enforcement purpose except to intimidate journalists working for them,” said Parker Higgins, director of advocacy for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is investigating the incident. “And now, almost a year later, there are still no clear answers as to why the photos were taken, how the images were shared or stored, and whether those data remain in law enforcement databases.”

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