From LAPD to IRS: The Pervasive Reach of Cobwebs Technologies in Government

May 8, 2024 | News

There’s an extensive and controversial use of Cobwebs Technologies by U.S. government agencies like the LAPD and IRS for surveillance that you may not know about. This raises significant concerns about privacy and civil liberties.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) partnership with Cobwebs Technologies represents just the tip of the iceberg in the extensive web of relationships that the Israeli surveillance firm has cultivated across various U.S. government agencies. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), another significant client of Cobwebs, sheds light on the pervasive reach of this surveillance giant into different facets of government operations, intensifying the debate over privacy and civil liberties.

Cobwebs Technologies: A Tool for Government Wide Surveillance

Cobwebs Technologies offers a suite of tools designed to streamline the gathering of intelligence from vast troves of online data. This capability extends beyond mere observation; it allows for deep dives into the personal lives of ordinary citizens under the pretext of security and enforcement. For example, the IRS’s engagement with Cobwebs involves paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for services that enable undercover online investigations. This reveals a stark reality: surveillance is not limited to potential threats or security concerns but pervades areas as mundane as tax collection.

The Broader Implications of Government Surveillance

The integration of Cobwebs’ technology by agencies like the LAPD and IRS raises alarm not only due to the scope of data collection but also because of the potential for misuse. The firm’s ability to monitor social media and gather personal information without a warrant poses a significant threat to privacy rights. This concern was highlighted by Meta, the parent company behind Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which banned accounts associated with Cobwebs in 2021. Meta’s decision came after discovering that Cobwebs had targeted activists, politicians, and officials in places as diverse as Hong Kong and Mexico, illustrating the potential for such tools to be used against political dissenters and not just criminal elements.

Fiscal Dimensions and Public Accountability

The financial aspect of these contracts also merits scrutiny. The LAPD’s nearly $200,000 annual subscription to Cobwebs’ technology, supported by a substantial $600,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, underscores the significant public resources allocated to surveillance. These expenditures raise questions about fiscal responsibility and the prioritization of government spending, particularly when such technologies could potentially infringe on individual freedoms.

The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Surveillance Practices

The widespread adoption of Cobwebs’ surveillance technologies by government entities like the LAPD and IRS necessitates a critical examination of current practices. It is essential for there to be a transparent dialogue about the implications of such technologies on civil liberties. Moreover, there must be stringent safeguards to prevent the potential misuse of these powerful tools. Without these measures, the trust between the public and these institutions could erode, giving rise to a society where surveillance overshadows the very freedoms it purports to protect.

Reassessing the Balance Between Security and Privacy

In light of these developments, it is crucial for policymakers and the public to engage in a more informed and critical debate about the role of surveillance in modern governance. The goal should be to ensure that while the government has the tools necessary to maintain security, it also upholds the civil liberties that form the cornerstone of democratic society. This balance is not merely desirable but essential in preventing the overreach of surveillance technologies from turning into a tool of control rather than one of protection.


Will the increasing use of surveillance technologies by government agencies ultimately enhance security, or will it undermine the civil liberties that define democratic societies? Leave a comment…


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