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Interpol’s vast, predictive biometrics platform modernises policing

Evie Kim Sing

28 Sept 2023

Real-time DNA and biometric matching data will be available to on-the-ground police forces who arrest offenders that have previously committed an offence.

Interpol, the international criminal police agency, reported an upgrade to modernise its data-processing platform, INSIGHT, where offenders’ identity data can be legally retained for a number of years or indefinitely under data protection laws.

Typically, if a suspect has not been convicted related to an offence, their captured biometrics must be deleted permanently from the police database, which would violate their rights.

It is also a common practice of international and national authorities like the police to share data of offenders with other organisations such as travel authorities, and vice versa.  The EU Commission struck a transatlantic data-sharing agreement with U.S.

companies that demonstrated the purposefulness of data sharing to protect citizens’ security and to understand migration flow that could give countries a problem with known offenders moving to live elsewhere.

In the interest of all foreign authorities, police-enabled biometrics have stepped up investigatory techniques and outcomes in a modern age, expanding on the revolutionary discovery of DNA in the 1980s to utilising more modality biometric technologies (e.g. fingerprint recognition, iris, face) to build a person’s entire identity profile based on genetics and physical characteristics.

The U.S. State Department has ingested $12 Million so far to supporting police efforts and the quality of investigations.

Hailed “predictive analytics” based on quickly transferred internal data to police units, authorities can generate “visual, video, audio recognition, facial and bio-data matching”  without accusations of bias and intrusive surveillance on the public.

This innovative mechanism for data propels policing into modern times and aligns procedures with modern technology.

The next step to the future is likely to explore the blockchain, AI and identity capabilities for an in-house police messaging app.

Scheduled to launch in 2021, the initial-phase platform was described as a “minimal viable platform” that would compile all INTERPOL data sources, external entity data and intelligence to provide “operational and strategic analysis”. The scope of the work and expected timeline for completion was expanded after review in December, 2019.

In 2022, INSIGHT held over 125 million records. For delivery between 2024 and 2026, the platform’s further development will involve all external and internal agencies and expand data.

The platform was only funded in the first phase by the US State Department, with a call subsequently made for funding from European member countries.

Erected in a tight timeframe, while police will be able to leverage a vast predictive policing system, “tens of millions of euros” will be needed to “sustain new systems for data and biometric analysis that have not been fully funded”. 

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