They Stormed Capitol. Their Apps Tracked

After rioters overran responding police officers and swarmed the House and Senate floors as well as congressional members’ offices on Jan. 6, there was an immediate call for those responsible to be identified, apprehended, and prosecuted.

This incident has prompted a massive, well-coordinated law enforcement response.

They Stormed Capitol. Their Apps Tracked

Their Apps Tracked Criminal Justice

As researchers who focus on criminal justice, we observe that law enforcement officials are using technological resources to access a significant amount of data to look into the attack on the U.S. Capitol building. To identify criminals and link them to specific locations and times, authorities use high-definition security cameras, facial recognition software, location data from cellphones and third-party apps, and access to historical social media evidence.

Watchdog Organisations

While watchdog organisations have expressed legitimate concerns about the use of surveillance technology by the government and the private sector to identify individuals who may engage in violent behaviour in the future, there has been much less concern expressed about the use of technology to identify, apprehend, and prosecute individuals after these crimes have been committed.

Face Recognition Software

Information about names and/or images of alleged protesters has flowed continuously to law enforcement in the days following the Capitol’s breach. In order to positively identify people of interest, law enforcement can compare images they have collected, particularly those taken from the network of security cameras inside and outside the Capitol complex, using facial recognition technology.

A face in a video or photo is compared to a face in a database that is linked to a person’s name and other identifying details in order for facial recognition systems to function. In addition to using public records, law enforcement organisations have been contacting private businesses to gain access to vast databases of recognised faces.


The amount of data that some businesses have been gathering from social media and other publicly accessible sources, as well as from CCTV systems in public spaces around the world, is becoming more and more clear, according to a growing body of evidence. The services of these businesses are easily accessible to law enforcement agencies.

The soon-to-be-completed national ID database can be used to instantly identify people taking part in violent encounters in public places. Some extremist organisations might disband as a result in order to avoid being discovered.