Babel Street (Chicago Police Department)

Curtis Waltman filed this request with the Chicago Police Department of Chicago, IL.
Tracking # 017 PAC 49137
Est. Completion None
Status
Withdrawn

Communications

From: Curtis Waltman

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/1 to 11), I hereby request the following records:

Documents concerning contracts with the company Babel Street. This includes:

-Contractual documents such as purchase orders, delivery orders, invoices, trial run agreements, and grant procurement documents.

-Any emails with the domain @BabelStreet.com to the head of procurement/financial department or any technology departments the agency may run, or the Chief of Police.

-Any marketing material obtained from Babel Street.

-Any reports on the efficacy of Babel Street.

-The number of investigations Babel Street has been used on. This is not a request for documentation on each investigation, simply the number.

-The total date range for this request is 1/1/15 to the date this request is processed.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Curtis Waltman

From: Shulruff, Audrey G.

Dear Mr. Waltman,

Please see attached.

Thank you,

Audrey Shulruff
FOIA Officer
Department of Legal Affairs
Chicago Police Department

From: Shulruff, Audrey G.

Dear Mr. Waltman,

Please be advised that additional time is needed as we have been reaching out other units for responsive records to your request. I appreciate your patience.

Thank you,

Audrey Shulruff
FOIA Officer
Department of Legal Affairs
Chicago Police Department

From: Shulruff, Audrey G.

Hello Mr. Waltman,

I have received the documents and they are in process. Please know that it is quite a number of pages, but that I will have for you as soon as I am able. Thank you for your patience.

Audrey

From: Curtis Waltman

Hi Audrey,

Thanks so much for your help with this request! I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Curtis Waltman

From: Shulruff, Audrey G.

Dear Mr. Waltman,

Please see attached for the response to your FOIA request.

Thank you,

Audrey Shulruff
FOIA Officer
Department of Legal Affairs
Chicago Police Department

From: Curtis Waltman

To Whom It May Concern:

I had asked the Chicago Police Department for records involving a social media monitoring company called Babel Street. This request asked for mostly contractual documents, and also asked for emails. The CPD records office informed me that they had "quite a number of pages" and would be releasing them to me shortly. Then, a month later, they exempted the entire release, which shocked me. I have asked police departments around the country for documents on Babel Street and other companies which sell proprietary equipment to law enforcement, and have always been able to get at least contracts. I have even written an article for Motherboard which cites a FOIA request in which the agency granted me records about Babel Street. The public has a right to know what tools police are using. Maybe not exactly how they are being used, or proprietary information about the product, but the public has a right to know what tools their government is using and buying.

Knowing how much CPD paid for this program, what program they bought, and how long this has been in use, are vital pieces of information for the public and do not damage police work in any way. This is more or less standard practice, and as someone who has filed hundred if not thousands of FOIA requests, this was a shocking denial. The CPD issued the following exemption to me: "[d]isclose unique or specialized investigative techniques
other than those generally used and known or disclose internal documents of correctional agencies related to detection,
observation or investigation of incidents of crime or misconduct, and disclosure would result in demonstrable harm to
the agency or public body that is the recipient of the request." 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(d)(v). These kind of programs are in general use around the nation, and disclosure of contracts would in know allow the public to be able to circumvent this program or render it useless. Their assertion that "Given that these social media monitoring
tools have great worth in identifying victims and perpetrators, it would be incredibly damaging to the Department’s
police powers if these tools were publicly identified. As such, use or potential use of these programs must be withheld
pursuant to 7(1)(d)(v).," is a stunning refusal of transparency. Disclosing which company and how much they paid for it is not releasing any information that would damage their ability to use the program. I was not asking for information about how it is used by CPD, or how often or in what capacity.

CPD is known to use social media monitoring. Their scandal with Geofeedia is well known. Contractual documents between them and Babel Street should be released as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Curtis Waltman

From: Public Access

Mr. Waltman,

If you are requesting review with this office, we will need a complete copy of the FOIA request you sent to CPD-showing to whom it was sent, date it was sent, etc. and the response letter from CPD denying your request. Please remember you have 60 days from the date of denial within which to file your Request for Review. If the response from CPD was dated June 9, you are over the 60 day time frame.

Mary Jo
Administrative Secretary

From: Curtis Waltman

Dear Mary Jo,

I am attaching a link to the MuckRock FOIA request I filed. My original request and CPD's subsequent emails are all included within this link. Due to MuckRock's open source nature, all requests are perfectly encapsulated. I hope this satisfies your offices needs. I am also attaching CPD's denial. As I filed this request for review yesterday, at 59 days, and am clarifying my appeal today, on the 60th day after their denial, I feel I am within the time limits and should be granted review. Please let me know your determination. Thank you.

Request link: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/chicago-169/babel-street-chicago-police-department-36208/?#follow-up

Sincerely,
Curtis Waltman

From: Public Access

Mr. Waltman,

Thanks for sending the response. Can you give me a call at 312-814-5607?
Thanks,

Mary Jo

From: Curtis Waltman

Hi,

I just tried you, let me know when is a good time to call back please. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Curtis Waltman

From: Public Access

I’m here now.

From: Public Access

Good Afternoon,

Attached, is a letter from AAG Mukherjee.

Thanks,

Lidia Sanchez
Paralegal II
Illinois Attorney General
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois  60601
312-814-2770
lsanchez@atg.state.il.us

E-MAIL CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This message, including all attachments, is for the intended recipient(s) only and may contain information that is confidential, legally privileged or otherwise protected or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not a named recipient or if you are named and believe you were named in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone or return e-mail and promptly delete this e-mail and all attachments and each copy thereof from your system. If you are not an intended recipient, please be aware that any copying, dissemination, disclosure or other use of this e-mail and any attachments is unauthorized and prohibited. Your receipt of this message is not intended to waive any applicable privilege or claim of confidentiality, and any disclosure is not binding upon the sender or the Office of the Illinois Attorney General or any entity or interest represented by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.  Thank you for your cooperation.
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