When it comes to our personal information, many of us assume our privacy is protected. Most of our friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and family members know some things about us. Perhaps one or two loved ones know much about us. We certainly do not expect our personal information to be available to a random army of people we have never met. And yet America’s Network of Fusion Centers is setting out to do just that. We’ve all seen the iconic images of increasingly militarized policing in the United States feature tanks rolling through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and camouflage-wearing officers wielding assault weapons while patrolling downtown shopping districts. But law enforcement militarization also has invisible aspects, none more so than the surveillance data that flow out of a growing number of devices, ending up in places we might never expect.
Based on the idea that 21st century information-sharing among a large number of agencies—including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, National Security Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration, and local police, fire, hospital, and emergency departments—will provide a shield against acts of violence, the 78-strong national fusion-center network ensures that a lot of data follow us around wherever we go and whatever we do.