#14: Innocent Until Algorithms: How Big Data is Changing How We Police


Big Data has come to policing. Departments nationwide with lots of data and robust analysis capability say they can predict where crime may occur, and maybe even who will be involved as perpetrator or victim. Does this help police fight crime? And if it does, what are the downsides for citizens and civil liberties?

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson is a Professor of Law at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia.

Want more on predictive policing? Check out Ferguson's full 2014 article here. He published on a similar topic in the Emory Law Journal in 2012. Read that here.

He's also the author of Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen's Guide To Constitutional Matters.

“The Fourth Amendment requires ‘reasonable suspicion’ to seize a suspect ... based on ‘small data’ – discrete facts involving limited information and little knowledge about the suspect. But what if this small data is replaced by ‘big data’? What if police can ‘know’ about the suspect through new networked information sources? Or, what if predictive analytics can forecast who will be the likely troublemakers in a community?”