KXAN News: Texas touts suspicious activity reports but critics warn of consequences
June 23, 2022
Jake Wiener, an attorney and fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, said he’s found suspicious activity reporting systems and fusion centers are not solving pressing problems. EPIC is a nonprofit research and advocacy group that focuses on privacy and civil liberty issues.
“Fusion Centers, more broadly, are something that between the states and the federal government, we spend $400 million a year on, and have never proven their value,” Wiener said. “But what they do very well is they do a lot of surveillance of political dissidents, of protesters, of ordinary folks going about their lives, which does not prevent crime.”
“We’ve had about 20 years to kind of get this right, which means for fusion centers to show their work, to show what they’re doing and the impact of it, and they’ve never been able to do so,” Wiener told KXAN. “In my experience, police departments generally do not shy away from showing that they’ve been successful. So, if in the last 20 years, we have almost no accounts of fusion centers successfully preventing a mass violence event, terrorism, something like that, that suggests to me that they haven’t done it.”