Policing in the age of data exploitation

Eva Blum--Dumontet and Millie Wood

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What does policing look like in the age of data exploitation? This is the question we at Privacy International have been exploring for the past two years. Our research has focused on the UK where the population has been used as guinea pigs for ever more invasive modern approaches to policing. In this talk we will discuss our findings with you and avenues for change.

Society is changing – the cities we live in, the way we communicate, the objects we carry, what we reveal about ourselves has evolved – and law enforcement across the world is desperately trying to catch up.
From mobile phone extraction to social media intelligence, police forces have been trying to take advantage of an environment that is largely unregulated.

With 51,000 cameras run by the police London is arguably the most surveilled city in the world. We have focused our research in a country that has effectively become a playing ground for law enforcement and corporations wishing to sell technologies offering the police unprecedented access to people’s life. The deals are safely signed behind closed doors and the general population has been left out of this debate.

Privacy International has been trying to shed light on these new trends. By conducting research, FOI requests and legal actions we are attempting to document this new environment. Trials of facial recognition have taken place at football matches and Notting Hill Carnival. They will continue to test this technology on the public and the next year will see a rapid uptake of a variety of predictive policing tools throughout UK police forces. The rush to extract data from mobile phones continues without oversight resulting in serious crime investigations being undermined by poor practices. Next on the horizon is IoT and how the police can get their hands on data in your homes.

We hope to create the opportunity for you to join our research project and start documenting what data and policing looks like in your country.

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