From automated license plate readers to drones to shot detection devices, law enforcement agencies use a variety of tools to collect data. Many are visible, but not immediately visible to occasional passers-by. Dave Maass, senior investigator at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation for Digital Privacy, has closely monitored the proliferation of surveillance technologies and educated the public about how to identify them.
Stanford students Craig Nelson and Shelby Perkins examined which law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area use which technologies and recorded the results. Nelson and Perkins have also tracked whether and how well authorities comply with state law requiring them to publish their standards, policies, procedures, and training materials online.
"When people go out into the world, we are now constantly surrounded by surveillance technology and it has become somewhat invisible to us, even though it is right there before our eyes." There is a story in this country that surveillance technologies are used to alleviate dissent. It doesn't matter whether the FBI is chasing Martin Luther King or the police in the Los Angeles area who send undercover police officers into the college classrooms to spy on students and professors. This happens in our society, even if it is not legal, even if it feels unconstitutional, it happens and it is important to keep an eye on it. "
– Dave Maass