We envision a society where systems of policing and incarceration are obsolete.
We seek to expose and constrain how law enforcement uses technology to expand its reach and to drive mass incarceration. We oppose police surveillance tools and reject the idea that technology can fix the problems in policing or keep communities safe. We have resisted body-worn cameras, face recognition, predictive policing, and other surveillance tools and techniques. Among our current initiatives, we seek to limit how local law enforcement agencies use forensic tools to search people’s cellphones. We also frequently work with defense attorneys on impact litigation and with local advocates to curb police surveillance, including in our own community in DC.
Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, Urmila Janardan, Tinuola Dada and Harlan Yu
This report is the most comprehensive examination of U.S. law enforcement’s use of mobile device forensic tools. Our research shows that every American is at risk of having their phone forensically searched by law enforcement.Read more
Latest work in this issue areaAll work in this issue area
Consistent with the calls to defund the police by Black-led DC-based organizers, we testified that the District needs a new approach to public safety, including a significant reduction in taxpayer spending on police surveillance technologies.
We are suing the NYPD for records concerning the department’s use of mobile device forensic technology. Upturn is represented on a pro-bono basis by Shearman & Sterling, LLP and the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.).
Together with computer security experts, we filed an amicus brief in support of the unsealing of a judicial opinion regarding the federal government’s attempt to wiretap Facebook Messenger voice calls, which are end-to-end encrypted.
We wrote a letter to Axon’s AI Ethics Board to express serious concerns about the direction of Axon’s product development, including the possible integration of real-time face recognition with body-worn camera systems.
Selected press and events
WIRED covers “Mass Extraction,” Upturn’s report on mobile device forensic tools.
“They’re getting a window into your soul,” said Logan Koepke. “We are placing in the hands of law enforcement something that I think is a dangerous expansion of their investigatory power.”
Body-worn cameras simply haven’t served the interests of communities in most places, and primarily should be seen as a policing and surveillance tool.
Harlan joins experts from across the field to discuss government hacking and its consequences for security and privacy.