Federal judge modifies 1978 order prohibiting Memphis police from spying on political organizations

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal judge made change to the 1978 order that prohibits the Memphis Police Department from spying on political organizations.

Three years ago, MPD used a fake Facebook account to track activitists and even created a blacklist of activists. A judge ruled that violated the 1978 order banning political surveillance.

The 1978 order was expanded to include social media, electronic surveillance, body cameras and other modern technology.

“While the decree allows the city to view information posted to social media for legitimate law enforcement purposes, such as in the course of a criminal investigation, it clearly states that the city may not create undercover accounts on social media or surveil people exercising their free speech rights for the purpose of First Amendment-related intelligence,” explained the UCLU-Tennessee.

The city tried to have the original order modified so officers could share political intelligence with other agencies, but Monday the judge ruled against them.

The Memphis Police Department has argued the ban on political surveillance hampers its efforts to fight crime.

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