Here's the appropriately bland intro from USA Today:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The final stages are near completion for the launch of a law enforcement social media network designed exclusively for the men and women in blue.
Created by former high-profile New York City police commissioner and Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton, BlueLine is being touted as a site where officers can share their expertise, insight and information securely through video, instant messaging, videoconferencing and screen share capabilities.
The network is scheduled to go live at the International Association of Police Chiefs' annual conference in Philadelphia in late October, Bratton said.So what could be wrong with promoting a safe atmosphere for police officers to network?
How about everything? Let me count the ways:
1. The BlueLine network will be hosted on servers that appear to be accessible by the Department of Defense and the FBI.
2. There is no civilian oversight: only police officers and the vendors who sell them products (!) will have access [but you can bet that 'corporate partners' will quickly gain standing].
3. Although the article says that there will be no mention of specific cases, as long as there is an instant messaging feature [which there is] and not formal oversight there is literally no way to prevent this.
4. There is room for all sorts of unsavory behavior in the guise of fighting crime and improving homeland security. For example, take this quotation from the story:
"This is a big void that needed to be filled," Bratton said. "Our intent is to have officers locate their counterparts and closely interact with each other on a number of topics such as gangs and counterterrorism as well as share their best practices and strategies."OK, now take a look at this very recent article from Earth Island Journal about how law enforcement and its corporate partners are not only redefining environmental watchdog groups, but literally any organized political opposition to government programs as--you guessed it!--terrorist activity.
It is important in this context to remember the Missouri fusion center report on militias back in 2009 that had law enforcement agencies sharing the "information" and "best practices" that included defining any driver with either a Ron Paul sticker or a Gadsden flag decal on their bumpers as potential terrorists.
Formal networks of law enforcement intelligence sharing are probably (and I say this with great reluctance) a necessity when dealing with interstate crime. But as we have seen here in Delaware with the DIAC fusion center, the lack of civilian oversight and the potential for abuse of civil liberties even with such formal networks is quite daunting.
5. And, finally, for all that security they are hyping in the article, let me assure you that from literally day one, be the source disaffected cops, bored teen hackers, or the nonexistent Mafia, BlueLine will actually be an open book to everybody but the citizens whose civil liberties it may well be used to subvert.
But, hey, in the increasingly militarized world of American dissension suppression (sorry, I meant "American law enforcement" there), this will cause barely a ripple ... because you won't be allowed to hear about it again.