A Brief History of VSP’s Schemes to (Illegally) Track You, & How They’re Now Using Fog Reveal To Do It Again

Alice C. Minium
10 min readNov 19, 2022

In July 2022, VSP awarded a contract to a controversial company with a controversial app: it’s called Fog Reveal, and it lets VSP monitor your life with no warrant.

Image Courtesy of POGO

With their recent acquisition of the Fog Reveal app, Virginia State Police can now track your phone, map your associates, learn your workplace, and monitor your home “patterns of life” without a warrant of any kind. And they probably will. No one’s talking about it. It isn’t the first time they’ve quietly adopted constitutionally-questionable technology and secretly gotten away with it.

  • Here’s a brief (and weird) history of Virginia State Police’s weird schemes to keep an eye on your life in various barely-legal ways over the years, as well as their most recent means of doing so.
  • We’ll cover Virginia’s lifting of the partial ban on facial recognition technology this year, how VSP lied about the use of it for a long time, and why their most recent purchase of digital surveillance technology, the controversial app Fog Reveal, is particularly concerning even in an era when we’re constantly spied on.
  • This use and abuse of secret schemes to spy on us is the inevitable consequence of flooding local law enforcement with federal funding while providing only loose restrictions on its use. The result is tons of weird, expensive, wildly unnecessary, and wildly invasive schemes by police departments. And the king of this craft is the Virginia State Police.

Before 2009-Present: Tracking Your Car (The Drama Over ELSAG Automatic License Plate Scanners)

The Affair of the ELSAG Automated License Plate Scanner, And VSP’s Extremely Overzealous Plan to ‘Track Stolen Cars’ (But Definitely Not Track You, Right?)

Image Courtesy of ACLU of Northern California

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Alice C. Minium

Richmond-based writer, investigative researcher, and police abolitionist. Contact me at alice@openoversightva.org.