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Police Want To Restrict Live Crime Audio Streams By Broadcastify

When a gunman terrorized the Michigan State University campus last February, killing three students and wounding five more on a winter night, students, staff and faculty scurried for shelter. Then they scrambled to find out what was happening. Many turned to Broadcastify, a private app that’s been making audio streams from police, fire, EMS, aircraft and rail radio systems available to the public since 2012. At the high point of the three-hour search for the shooter, 240,000 people in East Lansing — and around the world — tuned in to follow the manhunt. The events of that evening show the power of using the Internet to track information. Such power now worries local police so much that they want to close the door on people listening to their minute-by-minute work. That’s leading to an epic collision between the opportunities for transparency and the pressures for secrecy in ongoing police activity, reports Governing.

In East Lansing, the police scanners were full of a constant crackle of conversations between the 911 dispatchers and first responders. There were reports of suspicious vehicles — a stationary black pickup truck, a gray truck heedless of oncoming traffic, a different pickup truck circling the campus. One caller said that someone had fired at them from a silver SUV. There was another call reporting a bicyclist carrying a gun, found an analysis by The New York Times. When it was over, police officers discovered that the shooter had killed himself far off campus, soon after he launched the attack. By the time they discovered his body and confirmed that he was a lone gunman, the blizzard of reports had shaken thousands of Michigan State students. The Broadcastify app has a loyal fanbase of true crime aficionados. That audience swelled during the East Lansing incident. The buzz grew to such a level that a Facebook moderator worried that all the chatter might be giving clues to the shooter about where the police were looking. Broadcastify was originated by Texan Lindsay Blanton, who in 1998 founded, which bills itself as “the world’s largest radio communications data management and media provider.” The company tracks nearly a quarter of a million radio frequencies and has become the home for tens of thousands of people across the globe seeking to link with each other. Blanton says, “we’re providing a service to the general public to keep them aware.” Many local police departments, however, aren’t so sure.


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