Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Law & Technology

When Gangs Go Viral: Using Social Media and Surveillance Cameras to Enhance Gang Databases

Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Law & Technology

When Gangs Go Viral: Using Social Media and Surveillance Cameras to Enhance Gang Databases

Article excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS  I. INTRODUCTION II. AN OVERVIEW OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND     VIDEO SURVEILLANCE MONITORING     A. The Fourth Amendment and Initial Police Examination         of Public Surveillance Cameras and Social Media     B. Social Media's Impact on Gang Investigations III. HEIGHTENED SURVEILLANCE: DATA AGGREGATION AND    FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE    A. Using Social Media as a Tool To Enhance Gang Databases    B. The Limitations of Social Media Monitoring    C. Incorporating Social Media Monitoring and Database       Aggregation with Surveillance Cameras    D. The Constitutionality of Heightened Surveillance Methods IV. CONSEQUENCES OF TECHNOLOGY-BASED EVIDENCE IN   THE COURTROOM AND ON THE STREETS 

I. INTRODUCTION

When asked to picture a child watching a video, many people might imagine a child sitting close to the television screen, sipping juice and eating popcorn, enthralled by a film, such as Despicable Me or Frozen. However, children in gang-ridden areas now also tend to watch a different type of video, one in which they play the lead character. Children as young as eight (1) can now view online footage of their own gang initiations, which showcases these children being * physically beaten by older gang members as part of the "jump-in" process necessary to join the gang. (2) Posting such videos online not only provides gang members with an immediate audience composed of their peers and rival gang members, (3) but it also has the unintended consequence of offering police and prosecutors valuable evidence they can potentially present at trial. (4) Law enforcement can further use information found on social media websites to construct gang databases, chronicling every known and suspected gang member in a community. (5) By using such databases, along with public surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition technology to track gang members, the police can investigate and curb gang-related violence. (6) However, the use of such technology, by itself, remains unlikely to stop the spread of gang-induced violence plaguing many American communities, for doing so requires a proactive approach that can prevent children from joining gangs in the first place. (7) This Note examines the roles that social media monitoring, surveillance cameras, and electronic databases play in both retroactive responses--those that occur after a crime has been committed and are made in anticipation of trial--and proactive initiatives--those meant to prevent crimes from occurring--toward gang violence. It first addresses privacy concerns relating to a police probe of social media sites and surveillance cameras before focusing more specifically on the ways in which electronic surveillance can impact investigations.

II. AN OVERVIEW OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND VIDEO SURVEILLANCE MONITORING

A. The Fourth Amendment and Initial Police Examination of Public Surveillance Cameras and Social Media

Monitoring gang members' social media accounts and utilizing public surveillance cameras to identify and track gang members allow law enforcement to investigate gang-related crimes without violating the Fourth Amendment, (8) which protects citizens against unreasonable invasions of privacy. (9) Traditionally, this privacy right only applied to physical trespasses by government actors. (10) Because monitoring a social media profile and observing someone's movements through the public via surveillance cameras do not require physical trespasses, such methods would not constitute prohibited searches under the original understanding of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, expanded the notion of privacy in Katz v United States, and Justice Harlan in concurrence developed a two-part test, which courts now regularly use to determine whether an action violates the Fourth Amendment: (11) (1) the person must have exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy, and (2) that expectation must be reasonable. …

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