Los Angeles Police Uses Powerful Data Analytics Software

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Los Angeles Police Uses Powerful Data Analytics Software
Short Title LAPD Using Palantir Secretive Data Analytics Software for Analyzing Personal Information
Location Los Angeles
Date September 2020

Solove Harm Aggregation
Information Identifying, Behavioral, Professional, Criminal, Ethnicity, Social Network, Location
Threat Actors Law Enforcement

Affected People in Los Angeles
High Risk Groups Criminal
Tangible Harms

Palantir, a secretive data analytics company with ties to the defense and intelligence communities, has been touting itself as a tool that can “target terrorists and keep soldiers safe”, was found to be used by Los Angeles Police.


In September 2020 two released documents, “Intermediate Course” and “Advanced Course” training manuals, revealed how the Los Angeles Police Department has taught its officers to use Palantir Gotham, one of the most controversial and powerful law enforcement tools in the world.

LAPD’s Palantir database includes information from the DMV, meaning people with a California driver’s license can be swept into Palantir. It also includes 1 billion pictures taken of license plates from traffic lights and toll booths in Los Angeles and neighboring areas.

Much of that LAPD data consists of the names of people arrested for, convicted of, or even suspected of committing crimes, but that’s just where it starts. Palantir also ingests the bycatch of daily law enforcement activity. Maybe a police officer was told a person knew a suspected gang member. Maybe an officer spoke to a person who lived near a crime “hot spot,” or was in the area when a crime happened. Maybe a police officer simply had a hunch. The context is immaterial. Once the LAPD adds a name to Palantir’s database, that person becomes a data point in a massive police system. It can be interpreted as Palantir helping police in Aggregation of information.

Dozens of California police departments, sheriff's offices, airport police, universities, and school districts signed onto data-sharing agreements with the LAPD between 2012 and 2017. Contractually, these entities had to send daily copies of their own police records (like warrants and arrests), license plate readings, and dispatch information so that the LAPD could put that data into Palantir.

Palantir and the LAPD argue that these documents show how the system protects the public. People express concerns, that Palantir is expanding the power that police have, and minimizing the right that communities have to fight back, because the information Aggregation is done in secretive ways.


Threat: Using Palantir software law enforcement combining various pieces of personal information about Los Angeles people
At-Risk group: People in Los Angeles
Harm: Aggregation
Secondary Consequences: not known

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