Cities and Surveillance

March 7, 2018, 10am PST by Casey Brazeal
For six years, New Orleans police have been using a secret program that uses social media to locate violent criminals.

A program from Peter Theil's Palantir has been used by New Orleans cops for six years to try to predict which people are likely to have been involved in violent crimes. The program may have been controversial, but it was unknown to the public until a report published in The Verge uncovered its use. "The program, like a similar program in Chicago, pulls information from a variety of law enforcement databases and social media networks, and draws up a list of people most likely to be involved in violent crime," Tanvi Misra reports for CityLab.

If the existence of the Palantir program were public knowledge, civil rights advocates might have protested the possibility for automated discrimination. "Cities across the U.S. are adopting new surveillance technologies and algorithms without any public input or oversight," Misra writes. To address this the ACLU has been advocating for public hearings for these new technologies, so that citizens can have some say in how they are policed.

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Published on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in CityLab