Jul 8, 2022 - News

Tampa police use controversial surveillance tactic

Illustration of a pair of blinking eyes with police badges for irises.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tampa police are using a surveillance tactic that's been criticized as infringing on civil rights and even ruled unconstitutional in another state.

State of play: Creative Loafing's Justin Garcia reports that TPD has been using geofencing, which collects data from any electronic device in an area designated by police within a certain time range to investigate suspected crimes.

Why it matters: If your device goes near a geofence, you could find yourself the suspect of a crime — whether or not you committed one.

  • Defense lawyers and civil rights advocates have argued that geofencing violates privacy protections in the Fourth Amendment, which bars police searches of citizens without probable cause.

The big picture: Thousands of innocent people are suspected of crimes each year through police geofencing, per The Harvard Law Review.

Zoom in: TPD has used the tactic several times this year, according to public records requests from Creative Loafing.

  • The department did not respond to Axios or Creative Loafing's requests for comment.

The story is worthy of your time.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more