May 17, 2021

Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project Launches the Bad Apple Project


Tracy Rosenberg, Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project 510-684-6853,


San Francisco, CA -- Today we are happy to announce the launch of Bad Apple: a suite of easy-to-use tools designed to assist in the ongoing fight for police and sheriff accountability. These tools will help journalists, citizens, and oversight commissions obtain important information when police misconduct has occurred.

As Tracy Rosenberg, co-founder of Bad Apple and the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project explains:

Bad Apple’s open source tools lower barriers to broader law enforcement accountability. With easy access to almost 200 oversight commissions across the country, public records templates and a growing misconduct database, anyone can easily jump in to help root out policing’s “bad apples."

Today's launch includes four different police accountability tools:

  1. A “Bad Apple Database” of officers and investigative reports:

  • The Bad Apple database is an important tool for screening officers and ensuring that those who have records of misconduct aren't simply shuffled around to new locations each time they have a sustained finding against them.
  • The Bad Apple database only contains information about officers who have been the subject of an official misconduct investigation—either by Internal Affairs or by a city or town’s local police or sheriff oversight commission.
  • Journalists looking to verify the data entered into the database can find a complete index of every investigative report entered to date here:
  • Reports will continue to be added daily. If you have investigative reports to contribute, please contact BadApple at


2) A searchable database of Police and Sheriff Oversight Commissions:

  • As of today, the Oversight Commission database contains nearly 180 verified oversight commissions across the United States, making it easy to locate and contact your local oversight commission and file a complaint with them.


3) A Private Tip Submission Form:

  • The Private Tip Submission Form was created with the most vulnerable of citizens in mind: those who often wish to file a misconduct complaint but legitimately fear becoming a target themselves as a result of doing so. Citizens can use our tip form to contact us privately with the information, enabling us to alert the appropriate oversight commission or file a misconduct PRA request on their behalf.
  • We do not save or associate any identifying information with tips, including but not limited to IP addresses, user agents, and location data. Those concerned with maintaining their privacy are welcome to our onion service via Tor Browser when submitting a tip:


4) A PRA (Public Records Act) Template Database:

  • A searchable collection of Public Records Request templates that are easy to copy and paste into MuckRock to file police misconduct public records requests using either an officer's name or the details of an incident.

All of the technology powering Bad Apple is completely open source ( and released under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license, allowing for maximum transparency. The Bad Apple website ( is available in both English and Spanish and is designed to be completely accessible.


About the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project (ASDPSP):

Since November 2017, the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project (ASDPSP) has been using public records requests to collect and publish information about the activity of law enforcement, ensuring transparency around law enforcement misconduct as well as the surveillance equipment law enforcement agencies maintain and use. ASDPSP also teaches others how to file public records requests – and provides templates to be used with the website.


About Priveasy:

Priveasy is an open source, community-run, internet privacy and security services organization dedicated to protecting the digital rights of people around the world. Find out more at or


About Aaron Swartz:

Aaron Swartz was a programmer, activist, and visionary who helped to create many websites that are used by millions of people all around the world today. He created the first prototype for SecureDrop with Kevin Poulsen, a secure tip-submission system used by over 75 news organizations around the world, and co-founded Creative Commons, Open Library, and Reddit.

While conducting research as a Harvard Ethics Fellow, he bulk downloaded thousands of journal articles from JSTOR. Although it turns out what Aaron did was perfectly legal it confused MIT's IT department, who contacted the authorities, starting a nightmare that would end in Aaron's tragic suicide in January 2013. You can learn more about Aaron by reading his blog – and more about what happened to him by watching “The Internet's Own Boy” by Brian Knappenberger or reading “Aaron Would Have Been 34 Years Old Today.”


About Aaron Swartz Day:

Aaron Swartz Day is a yearly event and international hackathon that takes place every year in November to carry on Aaron's projects and inspire others to hack the planet – Leonardo da Vinci style - to make the world a better place, like Aaron did. This year's Aaron Swartz Day event will take place online November 13-14, 2021.


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