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Met police buys data harvesting software that can track individuals

Kiss human rights goodbye
Wed May 11 2011, 18:15

THE MET POLICE is investing in Minority Report style Geotime software from the US military that harvests data to view someone's whereabouts in three dimensions.

The Geotime programme collects publicly accessible information from social notworking web sites, GPS signals and mobile phone data trails, and it even tracks IP network logs.

That temporal data is then rendered in 3D, making it easier to read and track the location of potential suspects geospatially.

According to the Guardian, the Met rozzers said they've bought the software and didn't deny or confirm if the force will use the system on the streets of London. The Met was also the only UK force to buy Geotime.

Privacy campaigners are already outraged that the Met has bought Geotime. If the police force does go ahead and trial the programme, it will rightly be met with resistance.

"We shouldn't be tracked and traced and have pictures built by our own government and police for the benefit of commercial gain," Alex Hanff, the campaigns manager at Privacy International told the Guardian.

The problem is, how will the police use or misuse Geotime? Even if it's used to build up a 3D profile of a criminal's movements, it presents the potential to cause innumerable intrusions of privacy. But if it is used to harvest and retain pubic data to track crowds of innocent citizens at peaceful protests, the implications are far more alarming.

Using technology to build a Minority Report picture of crimes before they are committed is something that other technology companies have tried. Geotime's data harvesting presents a truly terrible potential for abuse and destruction of civil liberties, but it is not even in the same postcode as IBM's predictive analytics to prevent crime. A similar crime prediction software application was trialed in the US that uses algorithms to predict what offenders are most likely re-offend. µ


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