OCTOPUS PROMIS: The Rise Of Thought Crime Technology — We’re Living In Orwell’s 1984
OCTOPUS PROMIS: The Rise Of Thought Crime Technology — We’re Living In Orwell’s 1984 By Aaron Kesel for Activist Post
I don’t know if you have been paying attention or not, but a lot of police organizations across the U.S. have been using what are known as “heat lists” or pre-crime databases for years. What is a “heat list,” you may ask?
Well, “heat lists” are basically databases compiled by algorithms of people that police suspect may commit a crime. Yes, you read that right a person who “may” commit a crime. How these lists are generated and what factors determine an individual “may commit a crime” is unknown. A recent article by Tampa Bay Times highlights how this program in Florida terrorized and monitored residents of Pasco County and how the Pasco County Sheriff Department’s program operates.
According to the Times, the Sheriff’s office generates lists of people it considers likely to break the law, based on arrest histories, unspecified intelligence, and arbitrary decisions by police analysts. Then it sends deputies to find and interrogate anyone whose name appears, often without probable cause, a search warrant, or evidence of a specific crime.
This program according to the Times has been operating since at least 2011. The program introduces a social credit system. It gives people scores based on their criminal records. People get points each time they’re arrested, even when the charges are dropped, and they even get points for just being a suspect of a crime.
The deputies then make frequent – potentially even daily – visits to those with higher scores in the heavily flawed pre-criminal system.
Activists and journalists sued the Chicago Police Department in 2017 for failing to disclose how these programs operate, as Activist Post reported.
Chicago wasn’t the only major police department exposed using predictive crime algorithms. The Los Angeles Police Department was also caught one year later in 2018 by activists from the Stop LA Spying Coalition, as Activist Post reported.
This heat list idea in local law enforcement actually originated in Miami then was rolled out in Chicago. However, Activist Post may have missed other cities that gained less media attention; and as this writer will discuss shortly, the idea comes from a federal database.
A paper released last year by MIT entitled “Technical Flaws of Pretrial Risk Assessments Raise Grave Concerns” has been signed by some of the highest level university experts in the field of A.I. and law who warn about the “technical flaws” of these pre-crime based systems, Activist Postreported.
Fortunately for us, as Nicholas West noted, the pushback has already started in several cities, and a few police departments have dropped their programs after becoming aware of the inaccuracies. In 2018, for example, New Orleans suspended its 6-year running pre-crime program after its secret predictive policing software was exposed.
The scariest part of all this is that the New Orleans and LA police departments were actually both linked to Palantir Technologies, which directly works with the CIA and is suspected of being the current fork of PROMIS Main Core software. PROMIS pre-dates all of these local police heat lists, with algorithms that put suspected “domestic terrorists” into their own round-up lists, created at first by Oliver North for President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush under FEMA’s Readiness Exercise — 1984 (REX-1984.)
The use of Palantir’s pre-crime algorithm software posits that other police departments may be utilizing the same software for their own pre-crime programs. Palantir is also the same company working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on its own lists to catch illegal immigrants, as Activist Post and investigative journalist Barrett Brown originally reported.
You may remember Palantir from journalist Barrett Brown, Anonymous’ hack of HBGary, or accusations that the company provided the technology that enables NSA’s mass surveillance PRISM which is the successor to PROMIS. Palantir’s software in many ways is similar to the Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS) stolen software Main Core and may be the next evolution in that code, which allegedly predated PRISM. In 2008, Salon.com published details about a top-secret government database that might have been at the heart of the Bush administration’s domestic spying operations. The database known as “Main Core” reportedly collected and stored vast amounts of personal and financial data about millions of Americans in the event of an emergency like Martial Law.
PROMIS was forked into many reported use-cases for the U.S. government, including an intelligence application on board nuclear submarines of the United States and Great Britain, and the use by both the U.S. government and certain allied governments for inventory tracking of nuclear materials and long-range ballistic missiles. But the most bizarre and frightening use was to keep track of dissident Americans under Main Core.
Trump’s administration has now expanded that effort for local police and federal officials with a national security watchlist that includes Americans who have no connection to terrorism. The new TOC (Transnational Organized Crime) watchlist, was authorized through a classified Attorney General order and launched in 2017, as Activist Post reported.
The TOC database allows the government to track and monitor Americans without a warrant, even when there is no evidence they’re breaking the law. Also, anyone who is considered to be an “authority” – be it police to state and federal agencies, and even some allied foreign governments – can nominate any single person to the list.