On Thursday, an activist posted online a data dump of private files belonging to the United States’ largest police union.
The Guardian reports that the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), a union which represents 333,000 law American enforcement personnel, has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigations and requested that it investigate how 2.5GB of data was taken from its servers and posted on social media.
“We have contacted the office of the assistant attorney general in charge of cyber crime, and officials from FBI field offices have already made contact with our staff,” Chuck Canterbury, the FOP’s national president, said in an interview, as quoted by The Guardian.
The leaked files reveal the names and addresses of some of the union’s members as well as threads from FOP’s member-only forum in which officers expressed anger at Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor and President Barack Obama, who labeled the hacking of U.S. critical infrastructure a national security threat last April.
The data dump also consists of hundreds of “contracts” between regional authorities and local FOP chapters which some have criticized as shielding law enforcement personnel from prosecution and/or disciplinary action following unfitting police conduct.
“Police associations, they’re certainly not very transparent,” Alex Vitale, an associate professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, told The Guardian. “No one really knows what is going on inside police unions. The most troubling thing is that they have been able to work out disciplinary procedures that shield them from oversight, as in what steps that the employer has to go to discipline or terminate someone.”
Canterbury blames “anti-police rhetoric” for the leak. However, The Cthulu, a self-proclaimed technology and privacy activist who released the data on Twitter, has countered that the dump was motivated only by “the public interest.”
“We do not wish to guide the media in how to report on this,” the individual states in an update regarding the leak. “My role in this is to ensure the information is accessible to all so that a proper analysis may be done by both established media outlets and individual investigators who wish to expose any wrongdoing.”
The Cthulu explains that people should use the data dump not to attack the police but to “help them address their problems and correct them.”
They also point out that they have an additional 18TB of information whose release they are still contemplating.
Any party wishing to ask the Cthulu questions about the leak can do so here.
In the meantime, The Guardian is still awaiting confirmation as to whether the FBI is actually investigating the data dump.