Secrecy Within the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
It is no secret that Minnesota law enforcement generally want to keep hidden from the people new technology that conduct surveillance and monitor people. Just review the past several years of my blog on matters such as Stingray, KingFish, and to some extent automatic license plate readers, among other topics I have written about.
It was through data request’s that I found out that at least the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), even though the data was limited, owned or operated cellular exploitative devices, such as Kingfish and Stingray. It took the questioning by the State Legislature for more information to come out.
Even today the public and Legislature do not know the amount taxpayers have spent on, or will spend on the Stingray and similar devices since 2014, (see document above, page 7, part of BCA/Harris Corp contract). The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has told me and the Star Tribune that having knowledge of public dollars spent would be too much info for the bad guys to know. They have even refused to give the general amount spent. As Drew Evans, Assistant Superintendent of BCA, stated to the Star Tribune in written form:
“This would not only endanger the lives and physical safety of law enforcement officers and other individuals, but also adversely impact criminal investigations,” Evans wrote. “Disclosure of this information could result in the BCA’s inability to protect the public from terrorism and other criminal activity because, through public disclosures, this technology has been rendered essentially useless for future investigations.”
Therefore, we have an agency that will neither tell elected officials nor the public the general amount spent on devices that can intercept conversations and text messages of people with auxiliary equipment and upgrades such as the “Fishhawk” or “Porpoise” that collect data on innocent people who may be in the area of the target of an investigation.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to spurn and mock the public’s and Legislature’s right to know how much it spends on technology that has an acute and extreme involvement with our privacy and civil liberties only undermines the Bureau’s credibility.
As I know by the Star Tribune’s and my past experiences in trying to get the Harris Corporation contract and FBI disclosure agreement, the credibility of the BCA with me had never been lower.
Confidently, the public and legislators will begin to realize the BCA’s efforts to hide the amount of taxpayer dollars is not because of criminals and terrorists. The Bureau does not want you to know because they do not want the accountability and inquiry, they so deeply and crucially need on matters of public dollars spent on surveillance technologies that compromise our autonomy, privacy, and civil liberties.