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Policing, Profiling, and Human Rights in the Age of Big Data

March 1, 2018

Policing, Profiling, and Human Rights in the Age of big data

NOTE: This event was eligible for 1 hour of CLE credit in the Areas of Professional Practice category.

Big data has produced big change. As anyone with a phone knows, technology has exploded – and created startling amounts of data about our lives. How is this information tracked and stored, and how does that affect our rights? Algorithms trained on big data have transformed law enforcement and social services. Cash-strapped governments have proven especially eager to use automated tools. Some claim to predict crime “hot spots” and even individuals at risk. Others recommend whether to detain or release defendants before trial. And some assign children to schools and families to shelters. All these automated computing tools today play a larger role than ever before.

Fans praise these as better than fallible human judgment. But do they live up to their promise? How to judge claims by the companies who stand to make money off them? Can we really achieve transparency and efficiency? Do big data tools, as some charge, simply reinforce class and race prejudice under the guise of objectivity? Can these systems be harnessed for good? And how can affected communities gain control over how data is used and packaged?

The NYU Brademas Center and the Brennan Center hosted a discussion on the use of big data in social welfare, policing, and criminal justice, and its impact on marginalized communities. 

Brennan Center

Brademas Center

Tamika Lewis

Tamika Lewis

Rachel Levinson-Waldman

Rachel Levinson-Waldman

Cornell William Brooks

Cornell William Brooks

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson