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Orwellian Update: Undercover Cops Spying on Protesters via Cell Phones

• September 27, 2012 • 9:40 AM

Watch out, Occupiers and other protesters: the guy next to you taking cellphone snapshots may not be a fellow traveller, but an undercover officer sending real-time video to a distant spy center. As the National Journal reports, police at the Republican National Convention in Tampa tried out a new system that turned “off-the-shelf smartphones and tablets into tools for sending real-time video, voice, and data.” One advantage: using phones, like everyone else in the crowd, makes it much easier for undercovers to blend in, unencumbered by their trademark earpieces or sleeve-microphones.

Info from on-street phones was linked with “fixed-surveillance camera feeds… global-positioning system information, and traditional radio traffic. It was part of an effort to eventually develop a similar $7 billion National Public Safety Broadband Network for everyday use across the country,” says the Journal. Police were also, apparently, using facial-recognition technology to ID individuals deemed suspicious. Suddenly, those melodramatic bandannas make a lot more sense.


Vince Beiser
Vince Beiser is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter @vincelb.

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