The announcement that the Boston Police Department would not be going through with their plans to purchase dark web and social media monitoring software worth approximately $1.4 million was met with unanimous jubilation by the general public.
The statement was posted on the Department’s official website by Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans, who explained that the Department would not be purchasing the software because it “exceeded their current needs.” According to Police Commissioner Evans, Mayor Walsh was in full support of the decision to stop the purchase of the internet monitoring software.
Plans Were Made in November 2016
In an interview with Boston Public Radio back in November 2016, Police Commissioner Evans had revealed the Department’s plans to procure new surveillance software to help curb the insurgent dark web crime spree.
He explained that the software would help the police department to secure the neighborhood from dark web related violence, drugs, terrorism, human trafficking, and child pornography.
The Boston Police Department had previously contracted an internet surveillance service called Geofeedia from January 2015 to May 2016.
According to one of the three proposals that were received by the Boston, Massachusetts Police Department, the surveillance software would be equipped with high-end search tools and would be compatible with data from the dark web.
This proposal came from the Verint software company, stating that their surveillance software would enable the police to gain access to password-protected sites, reveal new user identities on the dark web, alert the department to suspicious activities in real time, and be immune to anti-bot measures.
Department Came under Pressure from all Corners Following their Announcement to Execute the Plan
The Department came under heavy opposition from a considerable number of civil rights groups, civil liberties organizations and religious groups, who strongly opposed the purchasing of the surveillance software.
However, these activists only focused on the software’s ability to monitor social media, which they deemed an invasion of the average citizen’s privacy.
News of the plan’s dismissal was chalked down as a victory which, according to the Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, Kade Crockford, was a clear example of how the democratic process should work.
The plans to acquire the surveillance software also came under opposition from the Boston City Council, who had requested to stay informed on the plans to procure the internet monitoring software but had been kept out of the loop.
The Boston Police Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald also spoke to Police Commissioner Evans in a letter, which, to sum up, advised the Department to look for more applicable options since the software they were looking to acquire exceeded their needs.
Software Would Have Been a Great Crime-Fighting Asset for the Department
The purchase of this software would have been funded in part by a $14.2 million grant from the US Department of Homeland Security.
Verint’s concise proposal had hinted at the software’s ability to monitor virtual currency, especially when used in the dark web markets.
According to the Boston Globe, the software would have given the Police Department the ability to create geo-fences, which would have been instrumental in pinpointing the location of which dark web content was published in real time.
Nevertheless, the Department will continue their search for software that will give them an edge over dark web crime.
Police Commissioner Evans said that the Department will be looking into the acquisition of software that will satisfy the department’s needs without compromising the privacy of the general public.