The report, released this month by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan policy institute at NYU School of Law, found that law enforcement data sharing programs organized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are fraught with waste and abuse and have whittled away at civil liberties protections while evading sufficient oversight.
“Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings,” the report explains. “Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime. But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head.”
Amidst unprecedented focus on overreach at the National Security Agency (NSA), many Americans have come to understand the risk of being spied on by the government in their electronic communications. But the intelligence-sharing hubs coordinated between DHS and state and local police departments around the country, called “fusion centers,” show there is extensive surveillance of Americans’ physical and social activities as well.