Police In Canada Are Tracking People’s ‘Negative’ Behavior In a ‘Risk’ Database

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behavior of vulnerable people — including minors and people experiencing homelessness — with little oversight and often without consent. Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces — Ontario and Saskatchewan — maintain a “Risk-driven Tracking Database” that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a “negative neighborhood.”

The Risk-driven Tracking Database (RTD) is part of a collaborative approach to policing called the Hub model that partners cops, school staff, social workers, health care workers, and the provincial government. Information about people believed to be “at risk” of becoming criminals or victims of harm is shared between civilian agencies and police and is added to the database when a person is being evaluated for a rapid intervention intended to lower their risk levels. Interventions can range from a door knock and a chat to forced hospitalization or arrest. Data from the RTD is analyzed to identify trends — for example, a spike in drug use in a particular area — with the goal of producing planning data to deploy resources effectively, and create “community profiles” that could accelerate interventions under the Hub model, according to a 2015 Public Safety Canada report. Saskatchewan and Ontario officials say the data in the database is “de-identified” by removing details such as poeple’s names and birthdates, but experts Motherboard spoke to say that scrubbing data so it may never be used to identify an individual is difficult if not impossible.

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