Some police around the country use hacking to access information without a warrant. Without CCOPS, Milwaukee won't know if and how hacking is used against us by our own police force.

Hacking software and hardware tools allow law enforcement officials or other government actors to gain access to a person’s personal computing equipment (including laptops and cell phones) and password-protected websites or accounts (like cloud storage or social media accounts). They can enable hacking to be performed in person and remotely without the permission of the account holder or service operator.

“Hacking” technology is surveillance because a government that hacks into a private computer or account intends to surveil the private contents of the hacked computer or account without the owner’s permission or knowledge. Using hacking software or hardware is like picking a lock to break into someone’s house — the act is an integral part of the unlawful entering.

Most hacking tools depend on vulnerabilities in commonly used computer software and services. When our government and police use hacking tools, which exploit these vulnerabilities rather than addressing them, they not only leave the systems open to their own intrusions but also to intrusions by hackers, criminals, and foreign governments.

This technology is only one reason why we need a Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) ordinance. CCOPS would require oversight and community input in invasive surveillance technologies, allowing the Wisconsinites being surveilled to make informed decisions about their privacy.

Milwaukee deserves to know how the police are surveilling us. Milwaukee needs CCOPS.