Techdirt: EPIC Asks The DOJ To Take A Closer Look At ShotSpotter Deployment
October 17, 2023
It had better act fast. ShotSpotter is about to receive another wave of unwelcome scrutiny. As Dell Cameron and Dhruv Mehrotra report for Wired, EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) is asking the DOJ to take a closer look at ShotSpotter deployments.
…The letter [PDF] sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland cites this data. It also suggests some ShotSpotter deployments are occurring in violation of federal law. The Civil Rights Act — specifically Title VI — is in play here. That section of the law says recipients of federal funds can’t engage in racial discrimination. But that’s exactly what appears to be happening when law enforcement use these funds to purchase and deploy ShotSpotter tech.
…It’s not just Chicago. EPIC’s study of what available data there is (most ShotSpotter locations are kept secret by the company and its law enforcement customers) shows that there has never been a ShotSpotter alert in Washington, DC’s predominantly white neighborhoods. As the report notes, that’s not because there has been a lack of gunshots or gun crime in these areas. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the DC PD decided white neighborhoods didn’t need to be dirtied up with this crime-fighting equipment.
…The DOJ has yet to respond or comment on EPIC’s letter or its suggestion some federal fund recipients are violating Title VI requirements with biased deployments. But it has prompted one of the most dogged critics of all things surveillance to respond with his personal assurance that both ShotSpotter and the DOJ won’t be allowed to simply pretend this has never happened.
Read more here.