While you are dipping chips and pulling apart BBQ wings, over 60 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies will be combining their efforts to survey the nearly one million people who will travel to the San Francisco area for Super Bowl 50. Agencies ranging from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to the Secret Service and the Coast Guard have spent over two years planning for THE game. This means that if you are attending the game or any events before or after the game, you will be watched. All eyes on you. Here is a list of some of the types of surveillance expected to be in use:

  • Cell phone surveillance devices (including fake cell phone towers called stingrays or IMSI catchers, that mimic cellular towers, tricking phones into linking to them);
  • Video cameras (many of them);
  • Automated license plate readers (with geolocational tracking); and
  • Social media monitoring software (this is new).

Of course no federal or state officials will confirm or deny the use of any of these types of surveillance. Officer Esparza of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) said, “The basic bottom line is that our best eyes and ears are the public who come and participate. If someone sees something, we are asking people to say something.”

The only other time this type of surveillance is used is for Presidential Inaugurations and for the Super Bowl which occurred right after 9/11 back in February 2002.

But where will they put all this data? How will they sort it? Well, right next door to the field is the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. The name of the game is coordination. Federal, state and local agencies will use this intelligence center to share information in hopes of thwarting and preventing any acts of terrorism. For those of you visiting San Francisco for the game, remember, they’re watching. For those of you sitting at home, enjoy the dip.