The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’


A new generation of technology has given local law enforcement officers in some parts of the US unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The police department of Frenso California uses a cutting-edge Real Time Crime Center that relies on software like Beware.

As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The program also scoures billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man’s social- media postings. It calculates a suspect's threat level as the highest of three color-coded scores: a bright red warning. How exactly the score is calculated is a trade secret. Similar centers have opened in New York, Houston and Seattle over the past decade. The powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists, who say they represent a troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error. Some say laws are needed to protect the public.

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