Thursday, January 14, 2016

Eight Problems With Police “Threat Scores”

The Washington Post Monday had a piece about the use of “threat scores” by law enforcement in Fresno, California. This story follows release of information about this predictive-policing program obtained through an open-records request by my colleagues at the ACLU of Northern California.

The scores are generated by software called “Beware,” made by a company called Intrado. According to a promotional pamphlet obtained by the NorCal ACLU, the software’s purpose is “searching, sorting and scoring billions of commercial records” about individuals. It scours the internet for social media posts and web site hits and combines it with other information such as public records and “key data elements from commercial providers.” Intrado claims that its product is “based on significant amounts of historical work in mathematical science, decisioning science and link analysis,” and “uses a comprehensive set of patent-pending algorithms that search, sort and score vast amounts of commercial records from the largest and most reputable data mining companies in the industry.”


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