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Some examples of documented misuse of data-gathering technology:

In Minnesota: State auditors found that 88 police officers in departments across the state misused their access to personal data in the state driver's license database to look up information on family, friends, girlfriends or others without proper authorization or relevance to any official investigation in 2012. And those were just the clear-cut cases. Auditors said that more than half of the law enforcement officers in the state made questionable queries of the database, which includes photos and an array of sensitive personal data.

MORE: Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA

MORE: Cell data dumps: A legally fuzzy area

INVESTIGATION: How we did it


In Florida: The state's Supreme Court is hearing a case in which a lower court found Broward County law enforcement overreached by conducting real-time tracking of the GPS location of a man's cellphone, using still-undisclosed techniques in collaboration with the cellphone carrier. The problem in that case: The police did so under authority of a court order that defense lawyers said authorized them to get only historical location data about his cellphone.

In Illinois: A suburban Chicago police officer responsible for overseeing access to the department's criminal history database used the system to look up his girlfriend's record. Similar cases have shown up in other states, resulting in cases involving harassment, stalking and identity theft, among others.

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