Department of Public Safety

Department of Public Safety Security Update

The Maine Department of Public Safety is aware of the reports from the FBI about the potential for armed protests in every state capitol, including Maine, and takes them extremely seriously. 

The Maine State Police, through the Maine Information Analysis Center (MIAC), remains in contact with Federal partners – including the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others – to maintain situational awareness about the potential for civil unrest activities. It is also tracking the potential for Maine-based civil unrest independently, analyzing intelligence and tips received, and will work with partners to respond appropriately and as needed. As of now, the Department of Public Safety, as a result of national reports, is specifically tracking and preparing for potential events in Augusta on January 17th and January 20th. The Maine National Guard is engaged in these planning discussions with the Department should additional support be needed. 
 
The Capitol building itself, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Legislature, is currently closed to the public and the Legislature is not using it to meet presently because of the pandemic. Furthermore, most staff from the Legislature, as well as those who work in surrounding State government buildings, are working remotely as a result of the pandemic. The Bureau of Capitol Police is the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting the safety of the State Capitol and the office buildings that comprise the seat of Maine’s government. It takes that mission seriously. In response to the events last week and new reports outlined by the FBI, the Capitol Police, with the support of the Maine State Police, has increased its presence in and around the Capitol. In the coming days, the Capitol Police will continue to adjust protocols appropriately, when and as needed, but, as a matter of longstanding practice, it does not discuss more specific operational details of its work. 
 
Our goal is to facilitate the peaceful and lawful expression of speech and to protect the welfare and safety of all Maine people, and we will continue to work to achieve that.
 

Maine State Police Statement on Third-Party Data Breach Involving the Maine Information and Analysis Center (MIAC) 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
June 26, 2020 

The MIAC was notified on June 20, 2020 of a data breach by Netsential, a company that provides third-party web hosting services to over 200 law enforcement and government agencies throughout the United States. We were told this data breach may have included information from the MIAC, consequently, we notified our partner agencies of the possible data breach with recommendations on mitigation measures, such as creating awareness for phishing attacks and changing passwords.  Since then the MIAC has been working to assess the extent of the data breach with our state, local and federal partners, including the FBI Houston Field Office, which is actively investigating this incident. 

Earlier today we received confirmation that datasets submitted to the MIAC by partner organizations and are maintained by Netsential have been compromised and made public through various unlawful means.  Our initial analysis revealed some of these files contain information distributed among law enforcement and government agencies.  The MIAC has been utilizing the services of this vendor since 2017.

The most common documents shared are crime information and situational awareness bulletins that are used to assist in solving crimes, to connect regional incidents and to create situational awareness for public safety entities and private sector partners throughout the State. These bulletins often contain identifying information, such as full name and date of birth of people under investigation by other law enforcement agencies.  They may also involve individuals wanted for criminal activity or individuals reported as missing.  We will be engaging in additional, more specific notifications to those agencies affected as we learn what the contents of those breaches are to ensure that ongoing investigations are not jeopardized.    

Fusion Centers were created to enhance public safety and encourage effective, efficient, ethical, lawful, and professional intelligence and information sharing.  MIAC’s mission is to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of crime and terrorism on victims, individuals, and communities while protecting people’s privacy, civil rights and civil liberties. 

For more information please contact Lieutenant Michael Johnston via e-mail at Michael.P.Johnston@Maine.Gov
   
 

COMMISSIONER'S RESPONSE TO MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM STORY

   

DPS

The Maine State Police are proud of our history of service to Maine people, and we value our relationships with the citizens and communities we are fortunate to serve. Those relationships are critical to earning the support, respect, and trust of the public that is central to our success. That is why, in the wake of a recent Maine Sunday Telegram story, we believe it is important that the public understand our philosophy and specific activities regarding new technologies, information gathering and investigative techniques.

Often the very technology that keeps us connected, keeps us safe, and makes our lives easier also creates questions and a natural anxiety about our personal privacies. Take ‘facial recognition’ for example. This refers generally to the hardware and software algorithms that examine facial features and match these to known photos. This is the same technology that can open a mobile device or an app, unlock a door, and connect friends on social media.

When it comes to law enforcement, agencies typically use this technology as an investigative tool in the aftermath of a crime. For example, a digital image or video of a crime obtained from a home video security system or commercial video alarm system may help identify a suspect. This process of gathering and using digital evidence is just like recovering a fingerprint or DNA at a crime scene. The use of this technology in these cases is simply another tool in addition to the common practice of publicly releasing the digital image on TV or social media to enlist help from the public. We believe that the public expects that the police have the ability and resources to take a digital image – or forensic evidence – from a crime scene and identify the suspect that broke into their home, stole their property, or injured their loved ones.

It is important, however to clearly distinguish Maine law enforcement’s use of this technology from the practice of ‘surveillance’, ‘spying’, or generally gathering information such as video or photos in public places in order to ‘track’ or monitor the activities of people not suspected of crimes. In the wake of the Maine Sunday Telegram report, we thought it was important to let you know what the Maine State Police does and does not do:

  •  The State Police does not own or operate facial recognition technology;
  • The State Police has requested facial recognition technology assistance from other agencies out of state to assist reactively with ongoing criminal investigations;
  • The State Police does operate the Maine Information and Analysis Center (MIAC), the State’s designated fusion center. This center serves an important function for Maine’s public and private sectors;
  • The State Police (including the MIAC) does not utilize facial recognition technology to conduct ‘surveillance’, ‘spying’, tracking or monitoring of the general public or individuals not suspected of criminal activity; and
  • The State Police does routinely test and evaluate new tools and technologies to determine their effectiveness, appropriateness, and relevancy as we work to keep abreast of new technologies and techniques that may help us accomplish our mission effectively and efficiently. An example of this testing process is the participation of the State Bureau of Identification in a federal facial recognition trial that began sporadically in December 2015 and ended prior to September 2018. The involvement of the Maine State Police was limited to comparing a small number of photos with publicly-available mugshots. This test gave us a better understanding of future possible uses and limitations of this technology to investigate crime.

In closing, we are all trying to understand and evaluate the potential value and efficiencies that technology may offer, as well as the risks and concerns that may follow. We believe that the key to minimizing these risks is in finding a responsible balance of privacy and security. Over the years we have been active participants along with the legislature, prosecutors and other stakeholders in helping craft statute and sound policy for Maine on a number of privacy issues.

We look forward to continuing these efforts to establish sound, reasonable policy for Maine because we live in the communities that we serve and share the same interest in making our state a better place to live and work.

Commissioner Michael J. Sauschuck
Maine Department of Public Safety
 



45 COMMERCE DRIVE, SUITE 1, 104 STATE HOUSE STATION, AUGUSTA, ME 04333-0104
TEL: (207) 626-3805 | TTY: (888) 524-7900 | FAX: (207) 287-3042

 

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