Indian Police Adding Pre-Crime Software To Their Long List Of Snooping Tools

from the mind-your-associations dept

Lots of tech is being deployed by law enforcement around the world — often far in advance of thorough testing, privacy impact assessments, or public input. Biometric scanning, facial recognition software, cell site simulators, social media monitoring tools, and, of course, “predictive policing.”

The last one on the list brings together a bunch of data and tells cops where to go to stop crime before it happens. Pre-crime is no longer relegated to sci-fi movies providing chilling glimpses of a totalitarian future. It’s here now and it’s converting certain neighborhoods into instant probable cause.

The Chicago PD is only one of several agencies using the software to generate “heat lists” of citizens in need of arresting. There may be no criminal activity occurring when patrols begin, but the algos say it’s inevitable, so off the cops go to round up people who may be likely to commit crimes.

India is starting to dip its toes into the pre-crime waters. A new program introduced in Maharashtra will dovetail with the local government’s cybersecurity plans, possibly converting the second-largest state into India’s leading surveillance state.

The work of enhancing and bolstering cyber security in Maharashtra, started in 2015, is based on five major projects, including developing software to help police department prevent untoward incidents or crimes at specific place and time. The software would work on technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics, empowered by exhaustive database of crimes and criminal activities, which is now being fed into the system.

SP Cyber, Maharashtra, Balsingh Rajput, who is implementing the state’s elaborate plan to strengthen the IT wing of state police under Special IG Brijesh Singh, said the ‘Predictive policing software’ would use available data sets of police, and open source information available over the internet, to give outputs regarding a probable crime. “Points for location and type of event and probable gang could also be derived well before time using the software,” he said.

The pre-crime software will roll out along with other tools of the tech-law trade. Portable phone forensic devices will be handed out to officers for use in cracking locked cellphones and scraping their contents. New software will allow the police to scan through hours of footage obtained from cameras and drones in a matter of minutes.

This will all be applied on top of India’s nationwide surveillance of communications via its “Central Monitoring System.”The national government has no qualms about participating in domestic surveillance. That attitude has carried over to the local level, ensuring round-the-clock monitoring of citizens’ daily activities in Maharashtra.

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Comments on “Indian Police Adding Pre-Crime Software To Their Long List Of Snooping Tools”

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DannyB (profile) says:

This is a huge technologial advance

If this software can detect who will commit crimes before they do, then why can’t they also build an application which will detect intent to commit copyright infringement?

While they are at it, I understand there is also a need to have encryption systems that are secure but simultaneously insecure via a back door.

What genius software will they create next?

Trumper says:

Re: This is a huge technologial advance

What genius software will they create next?.

How about "pre-rich" software? It could predict who is going to be a future millionaire or billionaire so that we can can go ahead and give them their money now. It’s only fair, since they have it coming to them anyway. I’ll even volunteer to write the program.

After that I could write a "pre-election" program. It could predict who would win an election and thus avoid the time and expense of an actual election.

I bet I could even combine the two into one program.
Just trying to help out, you know.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m curious as to what sort of exemptions are built into this nefarious tool. We certainly can not have it falsely accusing any wealthy folk now can we? Nor can we allow any of our esteemed law enforcement officers to be caught up in this monster. I’m sure it will be acceptable to trash the lives of those less fortunate. What I find amazing is the willingness of the wealthy to allow the mistreatment of our veterans and this is just another example.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s true. It will focus on street crime such as drug use and low-level distribution.

You don’t even need a fancy algo to identify the the board members of the transnational narco trade. The bank records (and telecom records, airport records etc) would reveal the entire network.

Of course, the whole illusion of legitimate government would collapse if they went after serious crime.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


After the arrest, when they take the ‘perpetrator’ to court, what evidence will be presented? The output of the computer program? If the arrest takes place before the crime is committed, what wrong would the arrested have done? Provable wrong that is.

If the police display an unexpected amount of patience and wait for the act of crime to begin and THEN arrest the perpetrator, then they would have actual crimes to charge the culprits with. Short of that, they only have un-provable intent. They might collect some planning materials and co-conspirators, but then they only have conspiracy to charge them with.

Maybe they should use the software in a blind study. Document the predictions, and correlate those predictions with actual crimes, for five or ten years, and see what it actually comes up with. Then, if accurate, the police could be in place and waiting for the culprits when they begin the crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Proof?

If the arrest takes place before the crime is committed, what wrong would the arrested have done? Provable wrong that is.

The committed wrong is that you are being arrested for nothing. You are also the one being punished for said arrest. Aka. You’re an example. One of many who will teach others to fear the absolute power known as the state, and to regret the choices of those that came before them that allowed said power to become untouchable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I mostly take movies & novels of this type as warnings, this could be real if … type of warning.

With the number of people who believe in magic, fortune tellers and ghosts being surprisingly high it is of concern that this software will be viewed by them as all knowing and infallible – and these people will be sitting on the jury to decide if you really did intend to commit whatever horrible crime. Did you or did you not intend to draw that mustache upon the King’s portrait?

John Smith says:

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Privacy is an obsolete concept. Those who don’t adapt to the new “business model” deserve to be imprisoned.

Let’s hope the software also red-flags verbal aggression, like namecalling, bullying, imputing mental illness on others (e.g., “nutbag” etc.), and doesn’t wait until someone is harmed like we do now to imprison people.

Those who don’t bully, don’t namecall, and live law-abiding lives should not have to pay the price for the “alpha” slugs and sociopaths who think they can commit crimes while pretending to be upstanding citizens.

The world is changing, and just like the big corporations who don’t understand file-sharing and can’t adapt, bullies, thugs, slugs, and other lowlifes will find themselves exterminated from the gene pool, and not a moment too soon.

John Smith says:

Re: Re: Re:

I was treating privacy the way some on this site treat copyright protection.

I do believe in using predictive software, but only when sentencing actual criminal conduct. Pleawe keep in mind, however, that our mental health system is already fascist, can incarcerate those who have not committed crimes, even forcibly medicate them (which should be illegal).

In both cases, when someone has not committed a crime, even if their behavior appears “weird” or “wrong,” the tie should go to the First Amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Why make outrageous comments when you will simply backpedal in subsequent comments?

First I deserve to be in jail, because I have “not adapted to the new business model”. Why do I have to do that? Is there some law?

Then you rant about how it is wrong to incarcerate, medicate those who have been predicted to be mentally deficient.

What if my mentally deficiency is to blame for my lack of new business model adaptation? Then what oh great eye in the sky, all knowing poo bah ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

the big corporations who don’t understand file-sharing and can’t adapt

I think you have something to hide and therefore fear there buddy.

Those who don’t adapt to the new "business model" deserve to be imprisoned.

So we should throw out morals and ethics because totalitarianism has been legalized? You’re the sociopath who needs to be locked up here buddy.

lowlifes will find themselves exterminated from the gene pool, and not a moment too soon.

So, "death to everyone who’s not like you" too huh? Will the real terrorists stand up?

John Smith says:

The mental health system has involuntary commitment laws which allow relatives, friends, lovers, and law enforcement to have people committed against their will (if they protest they’re displaying anger and aggression), and no one bats an eye. It is even still acceptable bigotry to use slurs against those who are batsh*t f**king CRAZY, and to say they belong in a “lonney bin.”

Why do we allow anyone who has not committed a crime to be incarcerated? We also make our homeless shelters so inhumane that referring the poor to one almost ensures that they will either commit a crime or require hospitalization, at which point they can be medicated. Those who see no problem with this should have no difficulty with software that can do more accurately what most of us already cheer being done now…to those we don’t like.

First they came for the mentally ill…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Have you looked at the current state of the art of the law? It has been massively softened. Involuntary holds are very hard to obtain and are very much not indefinite even in cases of very obvious mental impairment like a senile woman calling the police dozens of times daily – she had a sincere belief so it didn’t even qualify as a misuse of the system. Ironically the one technically legitimate call was to someone trying to get her to mental help and the cops had to show up and ask him to leave as she wasn’t bad enough to institutionalize technically.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“and no one bats an eye.”
– I doubt that.

“It is even still acceptable bigotry”
– Apparently so – our great leader encourages it

“Why do we allow anyone who has not committed a crime to be incarcerated?”
– bottom line dividends, plea bargaining & bigotry
– and at the same time allow those who have to occupy the white house

” Those who see no problem with this “
– Who is that? Congress?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Those who see no problem with this should have no difficulty with software that can do more accurately what most of us already cheer being done now…to those we don’t like.

They do and they should.

One person’s injustice against another is manageable. A system built to commit injustice against everyone constantly however, is completely unaccountable. The only thing that can be done is to turn it off and dismantle the thing. As long as such a system exists, it’s potential to victimize all of society is only limited by it’s ability to gather data, and it’s ability to manipulate others. No form of governance requires such a system. Especially one that is to be run by it’s people.

Fear is not the only way to rule over others, willing agreement and acceptance work just as well and for much longer.

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