Lumina Testifies Before the Florida House of Representatives

“How do we leverage the power of technology without sacrificing constitutional liberties?  How do we ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our communities safe without turning our society into the Minority Report?  

These were the opening questions posed by Florida State Representative James Grant at a recent hearing focused on Using Technology to Advance Public Safety and Privacy in the Florida House of Representatives.

Lumina joined a panel of expert witnesses to answer these and other questions from members of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.  

In addition to Lumina’s Doug Licker and Jessica Dareneau, other panelists included Dr. Russell Baker, CEO & Founder of Psynetix and Wayne A. Logan, a professor of law at Florida State University.

No Standardized Methodology

Beginning on the issue of using technology to keep communities safe, Psynetix’s Baker noted that the signs of violence or potential terrorism are often missed because there is no standardized methodology to collect, report and disseminate crucial information indicative of these potential acts – and that even if the data is available, it becomes siloed.

Lumina expanded on those complications, noting that 93 percent of those carrying out a mass violent attack make threatening communications prior to the event – including on social media –  and that 75 percent of terrorists used the internet to plan an attack.

The Internet is Useful to Everyone…Including Bad Actors

“The internet, it turns out is useful to everyone…and that includes bad actors,” Licker testified. 

“The UN, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) support the use of new technologies to help mine the publicly available information on the internet to help prevent, predict and deter attacks in the future,” he continued.

The problem, comes in the mass amounts of data available on the web – some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are added to the internet daily.  And, constrained resources from law enforcement agencies to analyze the data and respond.

Real-time Detection of Digital Evidence

In the slide presentation, Lumina shared a quote from the RAND Corporation which noted: “Most law-enforcement agencies in the United States, particularly at the state and local level, don’t have a whole lot of capability and technical people to manage and respond to digital evidence more generally, much less real-time detection.”

That’s where technologies like Lumina’s Radiance platform can be valuable for law enforcement.

“The power of our Radiance platform is two-fold – its ability to ingest massive amounts of unstructured, open source data and its real-time ability to analyze that information to predict and prevent organizational risks and threats,” Dareneau said. “It does this through purpose-built, best-in-class algorithms that can overcome the challenges of massive unstructured data ingestion and prioritization.”

The question of each of our publicly available digital footprints, and law enforcement’s ability to use that information in an investigation was widely discussed at the hearing.

Is Privacy Dead?

“Digital dossiers exist today on us all, which law enforcement can and will readily put to use in its work such as by means of computers, patrol cars and even hand-held devices,” Logan testified. “And why should law enforcement not be able to harness the crime control tools enabled by technological advances, such as machine learning targeting massive data sources?”

“In my view, my personal view, they should be able to do so but in a regulated manner,” he continued.

But, what should those regulations look like, and how best to approach the balance between privacy and safety?

Logan noted that the European Union, California and Illinois are all taking steps towards data protection measures, and could be models for Florida to follow.  

Transparency is Key

Dareneau said many of the policies being implemented relate to transparency.

“Transparency is so important, and that is what so many of these other jurisdictions are enacting in their legislation – requirements that you disclose what you are collecting and then how you are using it,” she testified. “So we try to stay on top of that, and make sure our privacy policy and terms includes exactly what we are collecting, how we are using it and who we could provide it to.”

As the hearing ended, Chairman Grant reiterated the work before his subcommittee to understand and delineate between private data and public information.  “This body is committed to acting,” he said.

Committed to Acting

When legislative session begins January 14, 2020, it’s clear that this topic will be a key focus for this subcommittee and the broader legislature. 

As Logan noted, “Technology is really potentially a game changer here. The question is whether it will be permitted, what limitations are going to be put on it and what accountability measures will be put in place. It’s just a different era.  We need to air the potential concerns here, and we need to transparently deliberate them and decide the issues.”

You can watch the hearing and review the materials here.