Law Enforcement Monitors Protesters, Reporting Shows

cyrus farivar

Cyrus Farivar. Courtesy photo

With hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in recent weeks to protest police killings and racism, the law enforcement response has been highly visible. But in less obvious ways, law enforcement officers also gather information about protesters both online and in public. Cyrus Farivar, a reporter on the tech investigations unit of NBC News in San Francisco and author of “Habeas Data” has covered some recent cases in which law enforcement surveillance of social media posts about protests has resulted in real life enforcement actions, including arrest by the FBI. Read Farivar’s reporting at NBC News.

“I think for most of us we understand, like, OK: The police are looking for one criminal mastermind and they’re taking extraordinary measures to go after one person. That’s one thing. It’s an entirely different thing when people are peacefully assembling and the government is using something like license plate reader or a drone or something else that can monitor who is there, whether that’s through facial recognition whether that’s through a device that’s gathering data off of cell phones, whether that’s something else that we can’t even imagine yet.”

— Cyrus Farivar

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 102.5 FM in San Francisco, or online at, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher

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