“Predictive Policing”

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor examines the practice of “central data collection” by police in Sacramento – a central location from which officers can monitor all their existing surveillance technologies, including 32 surveillance cameras.  equipped to read license plate numbersPODs included.

The idea is that consolidating information about criminal activity – from stalking complaints to potential lone wolf terrorist attacks – would make law enforcement more effective at investigating and perhaps preventing some incidents. The process would also promote accountability and transparency at a time of rising tension between police and the black community, providing evidence of both police and suspect behavior during tense encounters, proponents say.

But the technology raises big privacy issues. The surveillance cameras remind some of the 24/7 monitoring from the dystopia “1984,” and privacy advocates are troubled by the prospect of centralizing law-enforcement data, especially in a post-9/11 world where data is being shared more widely across federal, state, and local lines.

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