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Update
March 01, 2022

Data for Black Lives and Brennan Center Sue DC Police for Surveillance Records

Our DMV Hub has spent months working with the Brennan Center to push for transparency and accountability from the MPD regarding their social media monitoring policies. Today we explicitly and publicly name MPD’s use of social media as the weaponization of data.
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Last year, Data for Black Lives launched our No More Data Weapons campaign with a commitment to resist any technological tool used to surveil, police, and criminalize Black and Brown communities. Our campaign demands an end to the building and disguising new data weapons as legitimate and neutral.

Today through a joint lawsuit with the Brennan Center against the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), we explicitly and publicly name MPD’s use of social media as the weaponization of data. Our DMV Hub has spent months working with the Brennan Center to push for transparency and accountability from the MPD regarding their social media monitoring policies. This suit is an attempt to enforce the public records request filed last year. Though the MPD has produced some documentation, they have failed to comply with an order from Mayor Muriel Bowser requiring a response to our appeal.

This suit against MPD is part of that larger effort with the Brennan Center. We understand that this is one small step but hope that this public call-out will have a ripple effect on the pursuit to protect our civil rights and civil liberties. When communities join social media, they are not consenting to be targeted by law enforcement officers disguised as friends.

Police departments across the United States are given cover to anonymously create social media accounts to surveil community members and extract information. They have continued this process even though it violates the policies of several platforms.

We must understand what’s at stake when law enforcement and government institutions are allowed to weaponize social media against us. This lawsuit joins us in a collective struggle with organizers and journalists who have been pushing for MPD to address its unethical targeting of journalists and activists on the ground in DC.

Data for Black Lives will continue to push back against tools that act as force multipliers, racially terrorizing our communities. This is just one of our ongoing efforts to push back against the ability of law enforcement and state actors to relentlessly punish and criminalize Black communities, limit the movements of Black people, and effectively transform Black neighborhoods into zones of heightened patrol and policing.

We hope you will continue to join us in our struggle to rid our communities of data weapons.