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Keeping Better Tabs on Suspicious Persons

Artist's interpretation of cyber surveillance.

A University of Texas at Dallas cyber security researcher says it remains to be seen whether the technologies that have become key tools for terrorists can but used to determine if an individual is likely to commit a crime.


Information technology, the Internet, and social media have become key tools for terrorists, but it remains to be seen whether these same technologies can be used to determine whether a suspicious person is likely to commit a crime, writes University of Texas at Dallas professor Bhavani Thuraisingham, executive director of the university's Cyber Security Research Institute.

Thuraisingham says the difficult problems of jihadist activity and terrorism cannot be solved with technology alone, and people must tread cautiously when using algorithms. She says there still needs to be a greater focus on creating appropriate procedures.

Due to the debates on privacy and security over the past decade, the parameters of data collection and surveillance have not been set, Thuraisingham notes. "I believe in individual privacy, but in order to prevent terrorist attacks like the one in France, it is essential that technologists work with privacy advocates and lawyers to create a system for collecting meaningful data about people who are suspected of being radicalized," she says.

Ultimately, Thuraisingham believes technology cannot be used to keep people safer unless there are policies and laws that outline rules for analyzing data about people and extracting meaningful, predictive information.

From The New York Times
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