Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans defended the use of a social-media-monitoring program proposed for use in December by the Boston Police. "There’s nothing nefarious about this, there’s nothing sinister,” Evans said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “We’re not going after ordinary people. We’re not going to target blacks, Muslims, [or] gays.”

The technology would scan the web – including social media, chat rooms, and blogs. It would alert police when new content is created. “We aren’t invading anyone’s right to privacy here, because there’s no expectation of privacy if you put it out there on your Twitter or your Facebook,” Evans said. “We’re not going to do anything different with this— [this is] technology that helps speed up the process, it makes it more efficient. Instead of doing such a manual labor-intense search, this technology will allow us to get that information quicker.”

The BPD plans to spend up to $1.4 million on software and select a provider by Dec. 5. “It’s a necessary tool of law enforcement,” Evans said. “New York has it, LA has it, Chicago…if we can prevent one young kid getting killed on our city’s streets by monitoring the gang’s webpage, which is out there for everyone to see, then that’s my job.”

Civil libertarians voiced concerns that the technology could compromise free speech and privacy. “Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should,” The Mass. ACLU tweeted to BPR during Evans’ interview. “This program will violate civil liberties [without] keeping us safe.”

The ACLU released a report in October showing that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provided data access to Geofeedia, a surveillance company that they allege targeted activists of color. According to the report, “With this special access, Geofeedia could quickly access public user content and make it available to the 500 law enforcement and public safety clients claimed by the company.”

The Boston Police department has utilized the monitoring of social media, which Evans says is no different than using software to aggregate the data. “We’re doing what we say we’re going to do, this is just machinery that helps us do it quicker,” he said. “It’s all about public safety, we aren’t going into people’s private homes, and we’re not going to snoop on anybody.”

According to Evans, social media monitoring could have assisted police in a shooting at Ohio State University Monday, where the shooter had posted on Facebook expressing frustration at treatment of Muslims in America. “We’re all going back to look at his social page,” Evans said. “There were a lot of indicators that if someone had hinted us to that individual, then they could have caught that he had some views that were alarming to us.”

According to Evans, the program is still in the preliminary stages, and could take up to two more years to implement. The superintendent and deputy from the Regional Intelligence Unit will be explaining the details of the program at an open City Council meeting on Monday.