It’s no secret that police and other law enforcement agencies have a history of using mobile phone location and other data to target or investigate individuals, and the wave of mass protests in support of black communities and against police brutality this month has provided a rich data trove for them to probe. As it turns out, cops aren’t the only ones diving into the data to follow demonstrators after the streets are clear.
Political advocacy and voter-registration groups are reaping the bounty of location data tied to protests, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The groups use geofencing to contact those who were at protests—basically, reaching out to every device that was in a certain area at a certain time, without specifically identifying the individual. In this case, activists reach out with political messages.
Quentin James, founder and president of The Collective, a political action group that supports black candidates for political office, told the Journal he has been using location-based outreach to promote voter registration. “When these protests emerged, it was eye-opening for folks to understand, wow, people are gathering again,” James told the WSJ. “We want to make sure we’re using all available tools in our toolbox to make sure we’re reaching the right people.”
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