A hack showed that an Austin policing program may be overstepping. Here’s what we know.

A hack showed that an Austin policing program may be overstepping. Here’s what we know.

Posted February 7, 2021

A hack showed that an Austin policing program may be overstepping. Here’s what we know.

  • For years, the Austin Regional Intelligence Center has operated a community-level surveillance program.
  • A privacy policy constrains this program to the collection of intelligence related to crime or terrorism. But leaked documents show that the program may be straying beyond its mission.
  • In June 2020, a hacker group breached the Houston-based web development company Netsentinal, which had contracts with hundreds of law enforcement agencies for web-hosting services. Nearly 270 gigabytes of sensitive police data was compromised.
  • Known as “BlueLeaks,” the hack-and-leak operation is considered one of the largest data breaches in law enforcement history.
  • The problem is that purging isn’t happening, the leaked data reveals. And many of the reports submitted by threat liaison officers fail to demonstrate a terrorism or criminal nexus and stay in the system for years.
  • Since the leak, the center has imposed a 30-day information retention period, after which reports or information that is not determined to have a terrorism or criminal nexus will be purged from the system.

– Brandon Mulder | February 7, 2021