The Federal Government’s “Operation Predator” App

Folks adeykznyih
— This new “Operation Predator” app is really revolting to me and I am not even sure why I’m so certain it’s a terrible idea. I guess because it is so out of the blue (was anyone clamoring for this?). And because it acts as if predators and child pornographers are common and ubiquitous, when they are neither. By acting that way, it re-enforces the idea that no kids are ever safe, especially outside, as it seems we’re living in such depraved times. That makes parents even MORE reluctant to send their kids outside, thus further eroding an independent, neighborhood-roaming childhood.

And then there’s the fact that anyone can report anyone else as “suspicious,” which means any of us could be “turned in” anytime someone either suspected us OR wanted to make our lives a living hell. Doesn’t the government have more important things to do like…uh…govern? - L.

iPhone Screenshot 1

I’d like to report a suspicious app.

32 Responses to The Federal Government’s “Operation Predator” App

  1. Beth October 3, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    I think what gets me about this, on top of all the things you said, is the conflation of “predators” with terrorism, and children with the “homeland”. It heightens an across the board suspicion, justifies xenophobia, and creates a whole panoply of potential government abuses. And anything that touches on “national security” is by default, apparently, a national secret as well. If you are reported, does it put you on the no fly list? Will you be harassed at the border? Denied a job? Can you ever find out about it?

    There are two claims in American society that end any argument and that are nearly impossible to fight against: “child safety” and “national security”. Tying them together this way is a very ominous sign in my opinion.

  2. Gary October 3, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Gary Busey already tried this and look at how it turned out for him…

    Besides, you do not need an app, just look for the tell tale shimmer.

  3. Gary October 3, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    “child safety” and “national security”

    Next year at Camp Gary we will be holding an intensive three day seminar and workshop on National Child Security and Safety.

    There will be 3-Gun classes for the children on weapons safety and cleaning (handgun, shotgun, rifle) along with tactics such as how to properly stack for room clearing, live fire room clearing exercises, how to properly perform a center peel, grenade throwing…we will color them first, like Easter eggs that go BOOM!! :-)…how to properly set up an ambush, patrol tactics and many many others.

    All participants who successfully complete the training will receive a certificate of completion, a neato hat and T-shirt, a kevlar vest and a years supply of 5.56mm tracer ammo.


  4. marie October 3, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    …there’s a lot of people that are interested in these type of investigations,” said Brian Hale with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

    What type of investigations does he mean? Perhaps something like this one? The fact that many people are “interested” in investigations like this may have more to do with people enjoying salacious stories than with any need to know.

    Making it easier to report someone for whatever reason can be imagined will not end well. Lives will be ruined.

  5. Warren October 3, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    The app is far from free. It is going to cost the taxpayers millions. With all the paranoid moms out there already calling 911 for moronic sightings and fears, just imagine how many will be sent in now, with the flick of a finger, on your smartphone.

    How many men are going to be wrongly accused, and possibly investigated because some overly fearful woman didn’t like how nice he was to a kid?

    Your gov’t just shutdown because it is broke, but there is money for this stupidity. Wow, Ross Perot isn’t looking so nuts now is he.

  6. Andrew October 3, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Keep everyone afraid and paranoid and they’ll let government do what ever they want. There was a time in this country when people would be rioting in the streets over something like this. Now it’s accepted.
    Sending in tips anonymously worked so well for Joseph McCarthy and ruined so many lives at the same time.

  7. CrazyCatLady October 3, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Looks like yet another way that people can harass their neighbors without saying who they are.

  8. Will October 3, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    When you ask threat assessment amateurs to assess threats, you get amateur threat assessments.

    Amateur threat assessments are dangerous because they’re often wrong.

  9. Kate October 3, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Whose going to be the first one to ‘anonymously’ register a tip about the apps developers and administrators? (After researching their names, etc, of course). I’m sure they would catch the tips before they could do any character assassination, and it would send a message about the dangers of this kind of anonymous system.

  10. Wendy October 3, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    “ people an easy and anonymous way to report possible predators”.

    Whatever happened to the right to face your accuser in open court? This will do nothing but give the local busy-bodies a way to cause more trouble for their neighbors and not be held accountable for their false accusations.

  11. Gary October 3, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    “This will do nothing but give the local busy-bodies a way to cause more trouble for their neighbors and not be held accountable for their false accusations.”

    Which will all be done from the privacy of their own homes with the curtains parted jussssssst enough to let them look outside and give a brief and completely wrong “description” of the susp…I mean Pedobear.

  12. SKL October 3, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    OK, this is disturbing on so many levels.

    I’ve been around a lot in my 47 years and I have NEVER seen someone whom I could peg as a “child predator” except those who bothered me as a child. I can’t imagine accusing someone of that without being pretty damn sure. Way to ruin someone’s life. Anonymously! (Which I don’t believe, by the way – of course they will be able to trace the tipster.)

    And WHY is this under US Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Doesn’t that imply that perverts are foreigners – or maybe that foreigners are perverts? Why not the FBI?? Is this for real?

    I can’t imagine a dad feeling *more* safe with this kind of app out there. I suspect a lot of dads will feel less safe, knowing that every hysterical parent can report him with a push of a button every time he gives his kids a hug in public. Bah.

  13. lollipoplover October 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    This should be called the Boogeyman App. Let’s be suspicious of everyone and feel free to report our heebie jeebies anonymously. Oy.

    If only there was an Intuition App. That would help a lot of kids. Because making them afraid and fearmongering doesn’t fly:

  14. CLamb October 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Have read the description on the ICE web page it sounds like the app isn’t so looney. It’s not intended for reporting strangers engaged in suspicious behavior but to get the public’s help finding known predators. It not only provides a way for users to report predators but gives information on which specific people the government is looking for.

  15. Mike October 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    I like it. We can use the app to report every politician as “suspicious”. Report the reporters!

  16. marie October 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    The ICE site says:
    To receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide tips to HSI download ICE’s Operation Predator app.

    iTunes describes it this way:
    This app makes it easy for the public to report suspected child exploitation in their community. As part of Operation Predator, the public can use this app to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents identify and locate suspected child predators, and protect victims from further abuse. Call the HSI Tipline directly, submit a tip online, help identify most wanted suspects, read about the latest investigations and arrests, receive alerts when new suspects are being sought and learn about our partner agencies – right from this app.

    ICE lists the reporting function last in its description; iTunes–the salesman!–talks about it first. Both of them make it clear that the app is to be used to “provide tips” or to “report suspected child exploitation”.

  17. Tim October 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    This kind of stuff is what scares me. It makes it too easy to report someone on a whim with no consequences to the accuser.
    I am into photography and I have some friends with kids that play sports which I will go watch with the parents and take pictures. My photography equipment is very conspicuous, and I’m already a little paranoid about taking the pictures since I don’t have any kids on the team. Therefore I make sure I only go to the games with the parents and make sure to stay near them the entire time so it doesn’t look like I’m there alone. Just what I need is some other parent reporting me taking pictures of random kids playing sports. My friends like that I take the pictures since they don’t have the equipment to do it.

  18. Crystal October 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    My husband frequently goes to the park with our 3 kids and invariably will be asked by some little kid for help up on the swings, to be pushed, etc. What’s he supposed to say now, “Does your mommy have an iPhone? Yes? Well then, sorry, kid. I don’t want to go to prison.”

  19. K October 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Creepiest app ever. I wanted to review it to indicate my horror at the snoopy, don’t trust your neighbor, report on others facet of this. Unfortunately, you can’t review unless you own it. And, while it is free, I don’t want to download it to encourage other makers to sell similar apps.

    We should act like a community of people, not a nation of xenophobes.

    Our federal government is not at work, but here is what we are paying for in their absence.

  20. fred schueler October 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    doesn’t the common law say “innocent until suspected on a whim”?

  21. Reziac October 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    “I’d like to report a suspicious app.”

    You betcha. What better way to track people than to encourage them to report in regularly, even if it’s to report ‘suspicious activity’ ?? Have you reported your neighbor today, komrade? Remember, your cell phone continuously reports your location and identity!

    “Whose going to be the first one to ‘anonymously’ register a tip about the apps developers and administrators?”

    No, no, no. The ones who need reporting are the gov’t officials who think this sort of ‘anonymous’ reporting is a good idea.

    I’m reminded of this old Soviet joke:

    Place and time: somewhere in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

    The phone rings at KGB headquarters.


    “My neighbor Yankel Rabinovitz is an enemy of the State. He is hiding undeclared diamonds in his woodshed.”

    “This will be noted.”

    The next day, the KGB goons go over to Rabinovitz’s house. They search the shed where the firewood is kept, break every piece of wood, find no diamonds, swear at Rabinovitz, and leave.

    The phone rings at Rabinovitz’s house. “Hello, Yankel! Did the KGB come?”


    “Did they chop your firewood?”

    “Yes, they did.”

    “Okay, now it’s your turn to call. I need my vegetable patch plowed.”

  22. Jane October 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    sounds more and more like what happened in Hitler’s Germany, Report suspected sexual deviants to the government so we can protect the children, and then once you got it excepted practice then other groups where targeted…. it’s a very slippery slope we’re on’.. how can we not except anything that saves the children.

  23. J.T. Wenting October 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    “doesn’t the common law say “innocent until suspected on a whim”?”

    That’s long since been rewritten to “guilty until proven guilty”.

  24. Warren October 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    Started with a 1-800 number years ago to rat out your neighbors to the IRS, 911 allowing anonymous callers, Crime Stopper Hot Lines, and now this.

    I guess everyone loves a rat. The US one dollar bill should read.

    “In God we trust. But we will rat out anyone else,”

  25. J.T. Wenting October 4, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    “In God we trust. But we will rat out anyone else,”

    And the son of God was ratted out, most famous case ever…

  26. Brenna October 4, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    The most disturbing part is that when people see this, they automatically think “THIS IS GREAT!!” And when I point out the downsides, their automatic response is, “well, if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about”. Which is horsehockey. There are so many rules and regulations out there now, that once the authorities decide they don’t like you (thanks to your anonymous, sanctimonious, judgmental neighbor with her smartphone, who’s convinced you’re putting your children in mortal danger by letting them outside at the age of 13 unsupervised), you’re toast. They can find something you’re doing wrong, regardless of what you’re doing, and make your life a living hell.

  27. rebecca October 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    this APP is just rediculous, fear factor of america. If not for media, the fear would soon ease off. but no they keep it going. it is nothing more than political crap.

  28. oncefallendotcom October 6, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    I downloaded the app so I can follow my Congressman.

  29. Lauren October 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    This is getting ridiculous. I keep seeing articles from newspapers about “police were called because a man in a car spoke to kids at the park.” And it almost always turns out to be a relative, or someone lost, or looking for a lost pet. Not EVERYONE is a predator.

  30. Bob Davis October 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Back in the 1950s, the way to get someone you didn’t like in trouble was to report them to the Feds as a “Commie” or “Communist Sympathizer”. In the 60s and 70s it was reporting your object of dislike to the “Narcs”. Now we have a choice: “Terrorist” or “Pervert”? And the references to Nazi Germany and the Union of Silently Swallowed Republics hit uncomfortably close to home. Both of those regimes were heavily into encouraging citizens to “denounce” neighbors, colleagues and even family members. Today’s VIP motorcades in the US bring back memories of reading about the convoys that took Joe Stalin and his henchmen from the Kremlin to their “dachas”.

  31. Kay October 7, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    Like everyone else, I think child predators are worse than scum. But there’s a right way and wrong way to report someone you might suspect. I just can’t imagine this is the right way at all. This is a very serious charge and this is just too easy for someone to fly off the handle at anything.

    “But just about every parent said they plan to download it and use it.” – That sounds very scary to me, like they can’t wait to get going with it.

  32. dan October 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Pretty sure that commenting here to say “I wholeheartedly agree that this is a terrible idea” is going to mean all my email gets read and my movements tracked with my mobile from here on out.