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Lawmakers Look to Balance Privacy and Public Safety With Red Flag Technologies

November 6th, 2019 by Jake Stofan


The Parkland report exposed many missed opportunities to flag accused gunman Nikolas Cruz as a potential threat.

Now private companies are developing tools that could aid law enforcement and schools to identify threats before they happen.

Two companies showed off their technologies to state house members Wednesday.

“We have uncovered and reported more than 200 different threats,” said Douglas Licker with Lumina Analytics.

Lumina Analytics offers a product called Radiance, which allows police to scan the web for public information on a specific person and identify potentially threatening behaviors .

“A manual web search to the same magnitude would take someone over a year to complete,” said Jessica Dareneau with Lumina Analytics.

The other company Psynetix Laboratories, has a program called SIREN.

It focuses on education, providing a template for interviewing students who have already been reported as possible threats.

It then creates the student a profile that is scored against known mass killers.

“We’ve identified 13,089 potential behaviors,” said Dr. Russell Baker with Psynetix Laboratories.

Baker said flagging potential threats using machine learning has a 97 percent accuracy rate, compared to 39 percent using traditional pen and paper methods.

However, FSU Law Professor Wayne Logan cautioned lawmakers of the potential Orwellian consequences of the new technology.

“We’re predicating our interventions with respect to people on what they might do, not what they’ve done,” said Logan.

Recently the Legislature passed a law specifying how police can use drones.

In 2020 similar legislation may appear regulating these new technologies as well.

“We want law enforcement to have clear predictability about how to use these tools in an investigation and simultaneously we want individuals to know due process and individual liberties are going to be preserved. If we’ll give both of those entities clarity we’ve done our job,” said Rep. James Grant.

It’s a heavy burden, as the legislative process tends to move much slower than technology.

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