Minnesota and filing with Operation Safety Net


April 2021, a freelance photojournalist named JD Duggan was following a protest in Brooklyn Center following the killing of Daunte Wright, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, when things took a left turn. While Duggan was documenting the demonstrations, officers surrounded a group of protesters and reporters and told everyone to get down. The agents took the reporters, took them to a parking lot and started photographing them, one by one, with cell phones. Duggan estimates that a few dozen reporters were cataloged in the same group that night. "I asked where the photos would go," says Duggan. "The officer told me they are put into their app, but without giving me any details." The freelance photojournalist submitted a request for personal data to the Minnesota State Patrol on April 17. On July 19, the state police provided three pages that included some photos of them, the geographic coordinates of where the photos were taken, the camera angle and information about the officer using the app.

Intrepid Response, a product of Intrepid Networks, provides an easy means to capture and share information that identifies anyone on the other side of an agent's smartphone. The app was instrumental in law enforcement who collected and analyzed information about people during the Brooklyn Center protests.
The photos and data shared in real time via the app were entered into one of three known data repositories, which include photos and personal information about individuals during the protests and appear to be accessible to multiple agencies, including federal groups. Minnesota law enforcement agencies compiled the paperwork as part of Operation Safety Net (OSN), a coordinated multi-agency initiative to respond to protests related to the George Floyd murder that has extended far beyond its original, declared scope, and it appears to be ongoing. According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, several agencies involved with OSN have access to Intrepid Response, including the Minnesota State Patrol, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Minnesota Fusion Center.

Intrepid Response allows agents to collect data that can be analyzed in a myriad of ways, agents can compile checklists of people who participated in protests. The Minnesota Fusion Center has access to facial recognition technology through the Homeland Security Information Network, a secure network used during Operation Safety Net. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office (another OSN member agency) also uses what is referred to as investigative imaging technology, another term for facial recognition.

This kind of informal coordination between multiple agencies encourages "policy shopping" where the agency with the least restrictive privacy rules can perform surveillance that other agencies would not be able to do, "says Jake Wiener, Electronic Privacy. Information Center, expert on merger centers and protest surveillance. "This means overall more surveillance, less oversight and more risk of political arrests."

It's unclear where Duggan and the other reporters' personal data went after the Minnesota State Patrol shared it via Intrepid Response. Gordon Shank, a public information officer with the Minnesota State Patrol, says the photos were accessed at the Minnesota Fusion Center and the Department of Natural Resources via Intrepid Response. The Minnesota State Patrol eventually archived the photos as PDFs in an electronic folder owned by the agency.
In short, the filing of people seems to have begun.